The University of Wisconsin BIPOC Coalition shared and commented on a Wisconsin Public Radio article reporting on a UW regent’s opinion of campuses’ encouraging students to get COVID-19 vaccines.

During last Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting, Robert Atwell said that UW campuses should not be “compelling or coercing” students to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

UW encourages students to consider all vaccination sites availableWisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility is now open to anyone 16 and older. With only around a month left in UW’s Read…

Atwell also said that his colleagues on the Board of Regents should seriously consider a shift from “controlling population behavior” to encouraging students, staff and faculty to decide based on personal risk management, according to WPR.

In the WPR article, Atwell said that he believes the current COVID-19 vaccines have unknown risks and that his doctor did not advise him to get vaccinated. Atwell said students should question whether or not the vaccine has any benfits, suggesting data shows it does not.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, only 1% of people from ages 20 to 29 were hospitalized after getting infected with COVID-19. This group of people also accounted for 18.7% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin.

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UW BIPOC Coalition shared the WPR article on Twitter two days later, criticizing Atwell’s comments.

“UW regent Robert Atwell, who sits on the board of @HospSistersHS, has chosen to spread incorrect information regarding the vaccine,” the UW BIPOC Coalition tweeted. “No one is shocked that a member of UW systems has once again proven they do not care about students.”

As mentioned on the UW Board of Regents website, Atwell serves on the board of Hospital Sisters Health System a multi-institutional healthcare system founded in 1875.

Atwell started his term as a UW regent in 2017, according to the UW Board of Regents. He is the founding CEO of Nicolet National Bank and has been a Wisconsin banker for 34 years, according to the UW Board of Regents website.

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UW BIPOC Coalition also commented under their original tweet, writing that they recognize the distrust some members of the BIPOC community have towards the vaccines, due to centuries of racism within the medical system.

“However, we do not support the spread of falsehoods in an attempt to justify one’s choice,” the UW BIPOC Coalition tweeted.