GSU President: Students Have Choices, but Study the Data

Dr. Marrero believes well-informed students will choose to support COVID-19 vaccines and guidelines

Headshot of University President Dr. Kyle Marrero Photo by Georgia Southern University.

Headshot of University President Dr. Kyle Marrero Photo by Georgia Southern University.

The George-Anne Inkwell, in partnership with the George-Anne, conducted an in-person, socially distanced interview with GSU president Dr. Marrero on Wed. Sept. 1, covering a variety of topics, including COVID-19 and the cultural context surrounding the pandemic.

President Marrero was quick to express his frustration with the polarizing aspect of public health protocol, and explained that a purely scientific approach should have nothing to do with personal or political opinions.

“My greatest disappointment is the politicization of all of this, because it’s just good public health,” Dr. Marrero stated.
Dr. Marrero went on to describe the difficulty in formulating a strategy that sees results from students, especially considering that virtually no mandatory guidelines have been put in place.

“Now, it’s left to the individual choice. How do we capitalize on and ensure, from a behavioral modification standpoint, that our students and communities, when there’s no mandate, will want to engage in better public health practices?”

Promoting student vaccinations and encouraging indoor masks remain primary goals of Dr. Marrero and his team, who hope that informing students about the importance of being vaccinated will allow them to come to their own conclusions.

“All the data indicates that this vaccine is safe and that it is highly, highly effective, even against the Delta variant. You can look at the hospitalizations, et cetera, all across the board.”

Regarding masks, Dr. Marrero stated, “We want everyone to wear masks inside now, but we can’t mandate it. That behavioral modification is an individual choice… what we’re really striving to do through our communication efforts is to help that individual choice.”

GS’s stance seems to be that an informed student who is looking only at scientific data will, regardless of political affiliation, change their behavior to combat the COVID-19 virus. This would include getting vaccinated and following other regulatory guidelines.

USG guidelines continue to prohibit schools from enforcing mandates. Students, and others, will continue to make their own choices in the face of this pandemic.

Dr. Marrero is very aware of this fact. “You go to downtown Savannah, you go to downtown Statesboro, people are all choosing how to modify their behaviors. All we have control over is ourselves. And so I urge, I strongly recommend that everybody follow the best public health guidelines.”

USG’s COVID-related guidelines can be found on their website. Students should also check the “COVID-19 Information & Resources” section of their MyGeorgiaSouthern portal for more information on vaccines, self-reporting, and more.