FGCU, like many other organizations and institutions, is working to increase the number of students, employees and faculty members who have received their COVID-19 vaccine. As a part of this effort the university has rolled out a vaccine incentive program that aims to encourage more of the campus community to get vaccinated.
The university is offering $100 in Eagle Dollars to students in return for the voluntary submission of COVID vaccine records. There is also an ongoing series of ten weekly drawings where these students can win cash prizes. Each week, three prizes are awarded to students based on a random drawing of Eagle ID numbers.
This incentive program has rubbed some people the wrong way; people like sophomore Jessica Kelly, who said that while she doesn’t know all of the details of the program, she’s not a fan.
“It’s unfair, ridiculous and strange,” Kelly said, “Money should not be the way to go in rewarding those who received vaccines when others get nothing.”
Kelly feels that the incentive program came out of nowhere and she is concerned that it is essentially bribing staff and students to get vaccinated. She believes that the institution should just make adjustments to require masks if they are concerned about COVID-19 outbreaks.
Requiring people to wear masks indoors while on campus is a solution Kelly can get behind, more so than offering monetary gain for those who received a vaccine.
“Do I want them back?” Kelly said. “No, but if you have to resort to money, I feel it’s unfair and unfortunate.”
FGCU expects all students, employees, visitors and vendors to wear face masks at all times while indoors and when attending large, outdoor gatherings, even if they are vaccinated. This language mirrors the expectations set by the State University System of Florida, according to Coordinator of University Communications & Media Relations Pamela McCabe. The university’s policy doesn’t actually have any teeth though.
“We have no ability to enforce whether someone wears a mask or not,” McCabe said. “But we do expect individuals who are part of our campus community to help ensure the safety and well-being of themselves and those around them.
It is now more crucial than ever to get people vaccinated, as the delta variant continues to spread, and FGCU has completely opened its campus. Vaccine incentives may be one of the only effective ways to protect campus from going back online. Senior Hope Geraghty is a psychology major who is all in for the vaccine incentive program rollout.
“I’m super happy that FGCU is doing this because it makes people more inclined to be vaccinated,” Geraghty said. “It makes me nervous walking around school knowing that not everyone is vaccinated, but FGCU is really trying to get their numbers up with this!”
Geraghty has been in completely online classes for nearly two years and is now beginning her senior year in person, on a full campus. Geraghty has been vaccinated since April and was awarded her $100 in Eagle Dollars automatically after the program launched. She spent her money at the campus bookstore.
“I’m sad that we don’t require vaccinations, but I understand that the school is doing their best in encouraging students,” Geraghty said.
The FGCU community is divided about the new incentive program, but the effort the school is making is clear. FGCU continues to encourage students to get vaccinated through these perks, as well as promoting masking up with signs throughout the halls. FGCU cannot require vaccinations or mask-wearing, but the institution is not neutral on the subject.