Request to Reconsider Pharmaceutical and Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions on Campus
Public Comment: Peralta Community College District Board Policy: COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
Here is my brief presentation during the public comment period on September 14, 2021, along with the attachments I submitted to the Board for their records:
VIDEO RECORDING: Request to Reconsider Pharmaceutical and Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions on Campus: Presentation to Board of Trustees: Peralta Community College District, September 14, 2021 (odysee.com)
The full Board meeting is viewable here (My presentation starts at min. 40.40)
September 14, 2021
Dear Board of Trustees, Chancellor, administrators, colleagues, students, and community members,
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a brief comment today. My name is Barbara Widhalm. At Peralta, I currently teach in the Humanities and Philosophy departments at Laney and Merritt College. From 2007 – 2013, I managed a National Science Foundation program for our Career & Technical Education Program at Laney (setting the stage for the NSF ATE BEST Center). I also teach in the Bachelor and Master of Leadership programs and the Doctorate of Educational Leadership program at St. Mary’s College of California, as well as in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies Bachelor Completion Program at Sonoma State University. My specialty area is systems thinking.
Today I am asking you to please consider additional scientific perspectives and to bring in a diversity of medical scientists to carefully re-evaluate the vaccination mandates, as well as other pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions.
As a systems scientist, I am trained to examine patterns and trends over time, and to consider what impacts the structures and rules we put in place may have months, years, and decades from now. As a teacher, and as a mom of a college-age daughter, I also subscribe to the tenet of “Do no Harm.” I know in my heart of hearts that you do not wish our students harm and that you put these mandates in place with the very best intentions of serving our students face-to-face. And yet, looking at the available data, it is very likely that the mandates will cause significant harm to our very own students, faculty, and staff.
As I have learned in my own research, there is no scientific consensus that mass vaccination mandates benefit our students. I ask you to carefully examine the risk/benefit ratio for our specific campus context. I also ask you to carefully re-evaluate the scientific reasoning for all the pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions that are part of your policy. As a systems thinker, I am aware that each of these policies come with both intended and unintended impacts. That’s why I consider it so important to look at available data signals now to help anticipate and avoid some of the negative unintended consequences.
Looking at available data, it is very likely that some of our student athletes will not get athletic scholarships because of the concerning incidents of myocarditis and pericarditis, and that their lives will be significantly shortened as a result of following your mandates. It is very possible that the needle put in some of our students’ arms during our on-campus vaccination clinics will be a primary cause for ending some of their precious lives far too soon, or for triggering life-long adverse reactions, traumatizing entire families. It is very likely that some of our students will not celebrate graduation as a result of the mandates because of the significant health impacts incurred. Data signals already show this. Too many young students have already died. I have summarized the most recent Vaccine Adverse Event Reaction System (VAERS) figures in my letter, but actual adverse reactions are likely much higher.
It is also very likely that some of our students will not celebrate graduation next year because they have decided to not come back to Peralta, since they do not want to feel coerced or discriminated against due to a health choice they made. 70% of African Americans nationally have chosen not to participate in this experimental injection at this time, and I am aware of students having stayed away from counseling services based on their health choice. I invite you to consider how our very own student population could be disproportionally affected by these mandates.
Therefore, I urge us to take a step back and have another look. I have laid out some of my concerns in the letter I sent you on August 16. I am attaching it again here. My request to you is to bring in additional scientific perspectives and medical experts. Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Ph.D., professor of medicine at UCLA (policy research and hospital medicine), has kindly agreed to be available to testify. I have included his CV here, as well as a briefing he co-signed which is part of a lawsuit currently underway. The lawsuit was initiated by Prof. Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a UC professor of medical ethics and psychiatry who is challenging the vaccination mandate.
My letter lists many additional medical experts that you may consider, and I am happy to contact them personally. Together with these experts, I ask you to revisit the impact of both the pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions laid out in your current policy. I invite us to put our best thinking together as we convene around some of these questions:
· What is the risk/benefit ratio for these interventions for our student population?
· What are available safety signals telling us? What impacts are still unknown?
I invite us to look at the context of specific student populations. Please see my attached letter for specific references:
· How do these mandates affect our black and brown students who may have, by choice, much lower vaccination rates to date?
· How do these mandates affect our second language learners, specifically how do the mask mandates and social distancing requirements impact their learning?
· How do these mandates affect our students with disabilities?
· How do these mandates affect our high school students?
· How do these mandates affect our students with comorbidities?
· How do these mandates affect our students who are nursing moms?
· How do these mandates affect our Covid-recovered students who have a much higher risk for adverse reactions to the injections?
· How do these mandates affect our students wishing to have biological children one day? There are concerning data signals on fertility that need to be examined.
· How do these mandates affect our student athletes?
· How can we work together to ensure that these mandates don’t give rise to more discrimination and dehumanization on campus, or that they don’t keep students away who don’t feel emotionally safe to come to campus anymore?
· How can we help the unvaccinated and the vaccinated feel emotionally and physically safe, honoring Peralta’s mission of diversity?
Like you, I want my students to reach for the stars. That’s why I am a teacher. It would absolutely break my heart if some of my students’ lives were impaired as a result of the unintended consequences of these mandates. Please, let’s take a step back and put our hearts and minds together for the sake of our students, to make sure we not inadvertently contribute to destroying the very dreams they came to Peralta to realize.
Barbara Widhalm, Ph.D.
1) Letter sent to each BOT member on August 16 (rev. Sep 14): A Heartfelt Urgent Appeal to Reconsider Health & Safety Reopening Strategies at Peralta Community College District, also available at:
2) Declaration of University of California Faculty in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction: Aaron Kheriaty, MD (Plaintiff); The Regents of the University of California (Defendants): Legal Briefing: b26c37_2a6c0eb3f66d4a3d80c4fdfb03e06dca.pdf (filesusr.com). Includes CV of Prof. Dr. Joseph Ladapo who is willing to testify before the BOT (See his most recent WSJ article: “Vaccine Mandates Can’t Stop Covid Spread”.