SUNY, CUNY Systems to Require Students to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

On Monday, May 10, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that all students returning to SUNY (State University of New York) and CUNY (City University of New York) campuses for in-person learning this fall will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The SUNY system consists of 64 campuses spread around the state. Cuomo also encouraged private colleges and universities to set the same standard.

Cuomo later clarified that the mandate will take effect only when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives the vaccines their full approval. The three vaccines on the market are currently being distributed under “emergency use authorization.” The vaccines can’t be legally mandatory until they receive full federal approval, which he said he hopes will happen over the summer.

“Let’s make a global statement,” he said. “You cannot go back to school in September unless you have the vaccine.”

Cuomo didn’t mention whether the SUNY Board of Directors must approve the requirement, or whether there will be any exceptions or exemptions. Though Cuomo does hold sway over university policies, the systems’ boards do have to approve any major policy changes on campus. Cuomo said that he expects the SUNY and CUNY boards to go along with the requirement.

Many other universities around the country like Cornell, Yale, Columbia, Rutgers, Brown, and Northeastern will also require returning students to be vaccinated.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at

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