Ohio State Used Emails From Academic Advisors Without Consent For COVID-19 Vaccine Recalls, Does Not Intend To Clarify With Students

The College of Arts and Sciences has restructured its counseling system for the fall semester so that students have one counselor instead of several.
Credit: Shelby Lum | Lantern File Photo

The state of Ohio has used emails from academic advisers without their knowledge or consent to remind students not meeting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate to follow the requirement.

According to emails obtained by The Lantern, the university used the advisers’ addresses in an email from November 15 to remind unvaccinated students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or to request an exemption in order to schedule classes. for the spring semester. The emails indicated that the college’s intention was to send messages from advisers – with whom students interact more – rather than a generic college email in order to draw more attention to the message.

“To meet the requirement, you must either submit documentation of your COVID-19 vaccination or submit a request and receive approval for a vaccination exemption,” the first email read. “I care a lot about your academic progress and want to help you in any way I can. “

University spokesman Ben Johnson said in an email that the university had sent emails to around 1,500 students on behalf of their individual academic advisers.

“Unfortunately, an error was made and the advisers were not made aware of the messages before they were sent and we deeply regret this error,” Johnson said. “We are working to establish technical and managerial safeguards to ensure this error does not recur in the future.”

Johnson said in a statement that several university offices made the decision to send the emails to the students’ academic advisers, but did not specify which offices.

Complaints from counselors and repeated apologies from the Office of Student Academic Success followed the initial email. Damon E. Jaggars, Acting Vice-President for Student Academic Success and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, sent counselors an email explaining the situation and apologizing.

“Looking back, it’s clear that the approach taken (ie using advisor emails as a means of communicating with students) was wrong for many reasons that you shared with us.” Jaggars said in the email.

A follow-up email to the advisers from Kellie Uhrig, associate vice president and chief of staff of the Office of Student Life, and Amy Treboni, senior director of the academic council, said Student Life had used the emails of the advisers last year to encourage test compliance. People who responded to the email would get to the general advice email.

“We want to clarify a misunderstanding that was shared yesterday, in that this effort was not directed at top management – it was an idea that was generated and brought forward by our core implementation team,” Uhrig and Treboni said in the email. “All that being said, we unfortunately failed to notify the advisory team prior to the posting of the messages, and we are so sorry that this has happened.”

In his email to the advisers, Jaggars referred to a faculty petition asking the university to send a message to the students that the messages were not coming from them, but a copy of that petition and the number of councilors who have signed it are not accessible to the public. Jaggars said this clarification will not happen.

“We think sending another message to the students at this point would cause more confusion than clarity,” Jaggars said in an email. “That being said, we will contact any student who has asked you questions. “

Johnson said the university had followed counselors and students individually.

Jaggars said in his email to the advisers that the university will provide opportunities to better understand the perspectives and experiences of the advisers.

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