Unvaccinated West Point cadets facing stricter rules

Unvaccinated cadets at West Point Military Academy are reportedly facing discrimination with tougher mask mandates and a shorter summer break than their vaccinated peers.

A majority of the students at the academy are vaccinated, according to FOX News, with just about three dozen unvaccinated cadets at the school of more than 4,500 students.

And many of the students who have not yet gotten a COVID shot said they already have immunity from contracting the virus, but are now facing stricter quarantines and tougher mask mandates. 

West Point cadets were required to wear masks throughout the school year. They are pictured here marching at a wreathe-laying ceremony in May

Parents and students have said the push for them to get COVID vaccines began once the first doses were approved in January, and now, months later, students who are unvaccinated are facing increasing pressure and coercion to get the vaccine, even though the military academy does not have a vaccine mandate. 

They say they are being treated as second-class citizens and have been called ‘diseased’ and ‘dirty’ and treated as outcasts.

The vaccinated cadets have allegedly been told not to socialize with their unvaccinated friends, and a spreadsheet has been circulating on campus listing cadets by their name and their vaccination status .

The school has said it may have been ‘inadvertently disseminated,’ and officials were looking into the manner. 

The new limits, FOX reports, include a seven-day quarantine for unvaccinated cadets before the rest of the class has to return for summer training.

‘It’s like solitary confinement for a disease we don’t have,’ one cadet told FOX, with Elita Perusek, a mother of a son in his final year at the school, saying her son had declined to get the vaccine but had tested positive for antibodies.

‘He was counseled before he left West Point by his tactical officer, who told him that because he chose to exercise his right to not take the vaccine that he would be called “susceptible status” and that he would have to submit to Restriction of Movement throughout the summer, which means that he would have to give up some of his leave.’

She said the students have already missed out on some leave this year out of COVID precautions.

On Sean Hannity's show on Thursday he spoke with parents of cadets who refused to get the vaccine about what their children are facing at the Military Academy

On Sean Hannity’s show on Thursday he spoke with parents of cadets who refused to get the vaccine about what their children are facing at the Military Academy

The previous Restrictions of Motion requirement for students returning from break allowed them to go out to the mess halls and engage in activities, but Perusek said under the new requirements her son has had to stay in his room for 23 hours a day and ‘nobody in the chain of command’ came to visit him.

Documents obtained by ‘Hannity Tonight’ also show that as recently as last week, cadets were cited with Negative Cadet Observation Reports for violating mask requirements and social distancing, when they were sitting unmasked on outdoor bleachers within six feet of each other.

The students were also reportedly warned further discipline would be forthcoming if they violated the rules again.

The school’s guidelines for unvaccinated cadets say a mask should be worn in the barracks and in shared spaces – such as bathrooms and showers. They would not need to wear masks, the school said when ‘performing personal hygiene.’ 

But, the guidelines say, masks should also be worn when cadets are swimming, unless social distancing is maintained, and the only time they should not be wearing masks is during physical training.

Mathias Sampson, a 20-year Army vet, said his daughter at West Point did not get the vaccine because she had concerns about the long-term effects on her fertility, but, he said, officials are still pushing for her to get the vaccine.

‘It’s certainly not about the science anymore,’ Sampson said. ‘As her father, I’m very worried for her, but more importantly, and why I’m on the show tonight, is that as an American I’m deeply concerned about what’s  going on in the military academies right now.’

He said his daughter has had COVID and currently has the antibodies, but ‘West Point is putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on her to take the vaccine.’

The U.S, Military Academy’s Public Affairs Office said vaccines are encouraged, but are not mandatory. 

‘Though they train together and are fully integrated in all activities, unvaccinated cadets are currently being housed separately from vaccinated cadets to minimize transmission risk and are provided with equal or better living conditions,’ the office told Hannity’s show.

‘The academy’s risk mitigating plan for summer military training was developed under the guidance of medical advisors, experience from last year’s academy summer training experiences and is aligned with the measures used in other military training, exercises across the army.’

The school also pushed back against the idea that the school’s COVID coordinator, Col. Laura Dawson attempted to coerce the cadets into getting the vaccine.

‘Currently the Department of Defense is not mandating vaccines for US military members, and it remains optional but encouraged for West Point personnel,’ the school said in a statement.

‘Any harassment, abuse, threats or punitive measures targeting unvaccinated personnel is antithetical to West Point policy, ideals and Army values,’ it continued. ‘West Point takes every report of inappropriate behavior very seriously and takes immediate actions to address such reports in a timely manner.’  

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