Some Chapman Students Are Not Vaccinated Amid CA Measles Outbreak

2019 is the highest year of reported measles cases since 1994, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Photo courtesy of Unsplash, by Michael Amadeus.

Measles – a highly contagious disease once thought eradicated – is now bubbling up in California, yet Chapman University allows any student to waive vaccination requirements, even if they seek to live in the dorms.

Director of Student Health Jacqueline Deats and Information Systems Specialist Oscar Garcia refused to provide Prowl with the numbers or percentages of vaccinated or unvaccinated students.

No cases of measles have been reported at Chapman, said Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications Jamie Ceman in an April 30 press release.

The policy provokes questions as to whether waivers should be granted so casually, especially in light of the college’s requirements for incoming students to live in college dorms – sometimes several people to a room – and student resentment at being required to live on campus for their freshmen and sophomore years.

Measles was considered eradicated in 2000 according to the CDC, but it is back and on the rise.

As of May 10, there have been 839 reported cases of measles in 23 states, according to the CDC. Forty-four of those cases are in California as of May 8, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and unvaccinated and non-immune people are at risk for contracting the disease. Measles is highly contagious and characterized by a fever, cough, and rash all over the body.

“Based on some of the statistics, there are more parents who are not vaccinating their children,” said Director of Student Health Jacqueline Deats. “They’re not doing the routine CDC vaccination for MMRs (measles, mumps, and rubella).”

Childhood vaccination rates have recently increased with more than 90 percent of children in 2017 having been covered, according to the CDC. Measles erupt  when pockets of unvaccinated people spread the disease in a community and when cases come into the United States, the CDC states.

But Chapman students are able to waive out of the vaccination requirement for any reason.

All University of California (UC) students are required to obtain the MMR, chickenpox, tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), and meningococcal conjugate vaccines, plus complete a tuberculosis screening, states the UC Health flyer. The California State University (CSU) system requires proof of two MMRs, and if a first-time enrollee is 18-years old or younger, the Hepatitis B vaccine is required. Institutions with on-campus housing must inform students of the meningococcal vaccines, states the CDPH.

Based on a 2015 California law, religious and personal beliefs are no longer considered exemptions for public institutions, but parents and students can bypass vaccinations through medical circumstances, according to California’s Health and Safety Code.

However, the policy of Chapman – a private university –  diverges from the UC and CSU systems.

“There is a way due to religious or personal beliefs, and if they choose not to [vaccinate], there is a waiver and you have to come in and request that waiver,” Deats said.

Chapman’s vaccination confirmation process–done online upon admission–asks students to input the dates they received two doses of the MMR vaccine and a tetanus shot administered within the past 10 years, said Deats.

The Health Center confirms the dates after the student ensures the information is correct.

“We follow recommendations, but we’re not mandated by the state,” Deats said. “[Students] have the right to waive out.”

Junior strategic and corporate communications major Hanna Yorke says that she has all the required vaccines – including the measles vaccine – but was on a “delayed course” for getting them since her parents are skeptical of vaccine safety. Her beliefs echo theirs.

“Everything that was optional I opted out of [as a child], including the HPV vaccination, and I got my vaccinations very spaced out over the years,” Yorke said.

Yorke is “not at all” worried about spreading or catching measles and other vaccine-preventable disease. But she concedes it is because she has had vaccinations that she doesn’t think that she poses a large threat to others’ ability to contract deadly infections.

“When you’re in the dorms, you’re in such close quarters and proximity to others that sickness is spread so easily,” said sophomore health sciences major Laura Metraux. “I was always sick when I lived in the dorms with colds and stuff, but now with measles outbreaks I think Chapman should require it to prevent spreading.”

If a student does contract a vaccine-preventable disease, Chapman has herd immunity, said Deats.

Herd immunity is when a population prevents the spread of a disease because of the high proportion of those protected against it. However, herd immunity does not protect against all diseases and does not give a high level of individual protection, states the Vaccine Knowledge Project, an independent research institution by the University of Oxford.

“[Herd immunity is risky because what if more and more people come that aren’t vaccinated and then it spreads more? People who are immunosuppressed can be affected more by an outbreak,” Metraux said.

Water is the main ingredient in vaccines, and some added ingredients appear only in trace amounts or do not remain in the vaccine at all, according to the Vaccine Knowledge Project. Many ingredients are found naturally in the body, and “there is no scientific evidence that the low levels of [formaldehyde], mercury or aluminum in vaccines can be harmful,” states PublicHealth.org.

Common side effects include injection site reactions such as redness or swelling, a high temperature, and fatigue. However, rare cases can result in a serious allergic reaction that can be reversible, but this occurs in less than “one in a million cases,” states the National Health Service website.

The Health Center offers travel immunizations and some vaccines, but most students come in for boosters, said Deats, and there isn’t a huge demand for them. There is no visitation fee for the Health Center, but students have to pay for the cost of the vaccine they’re receiving, which ranges from $30 to $40.

Deats urges that students not only receive their MMRs and the tetanus shot, but all of the recommended vaccinations. To contact the Health Center, call (714) 997-6851.

A Chapman History Professor is Running for Congress

Liam O’Mara has an entire page on his website dedicated to his beard. Photo courtesy of Liam O’Mara for Congress.

 

A self-described outsider and “unabashedly a progressive” Chapman adjunct professor is throwing his hat into the ring for California’s 42nd District congressional race.

The campaign platform of William “Liam” O’Mara IV, a 44-year old professor in the history department emphasizes an “economic populist message.” Medicare for all, paid family and maternity leave and raising the minimum wage to $15 are among his top issues.

“Democratic politicians tend to emphasize those issues in moral terms, and they focus on how it’s just a better thing to do for people,” said O’Mara. “I want to emphasize the economic good that comes from it, because I think that these policies could be broadly appealing to Americans of all political backgrounds.”

The 42nd District, part of Riverside County, includes Corona, Lake Elsinore, and Murrieta. It is considered an “R+9” district by the Cook Partisan Voting Index’s 2017 data, which means that the district leans more conservative compared to the rest of the nation. The seat is currently occupied by Republican Kenneth Calvert, who has been in office since 1993.

A spokesperson for Calvert in an email to Prowl said that the congressman has no comment regarding O’Mara’s campaign.

People “are hungering for a bit more realness and authenticity from politicians,” said O’Mara, who wants to bring more integrity to elections.

“Trump’s completely unscripted streams of gibberish kind of appeal to people because he seems like an ordinary, relatable person. He’s not just reading the script,” O’Mara said. “People weren’t turned off by that…so maybe people would take me seriously in politics, like why not try?”

O’Mara considered a run in 2018, but decided to hold off.

The only other Democrat running as of April 15, Julia Peacock, ran against Calvert in the midterms, winning 43.5% to Calvert’s 56.5% slab of voters.

She said she was motivated to run after Donald Trump was elected president, and while she declined to address O’Mara’s campaign, she argued that she is the better candidate.

“I realized I had not used my privilege to its full potential…My commitment to this community, win or lose, sets me apart from every contender, including the 26-year incumbent,” Peacock wrote in an email to Prowl.

O’Mara’s focus now is on beating Peacock, a public school teacher with a strong public-education platform, in the March 2020 primary. He said he recognizes that he has to “considerably leave [Peacock] behind in the primary to secure the level of funding needed” to face Calvert in the general election, by becoming one of the top two vote getters in the primary.

While he is not accepting money from super PACs, O’Mara does not have a problem with receiving money from regular PACs.

PACs, or political action committees, are groups that can donate a specific amount of money directly to a campaign from individual contributions. Super PACs cannot have ties to a candidate, but can spend unlimited amounts of money to run ads supporting a candidate’s platform.

O’Mara said that he has raised about $10,000 from people who already know him, which does not include money from any PACs, unions, or constituents.

Television ads and billboards are a “complete waste of money,” in O’Mara’s opinion. He plans to spend the money he raises on paying canvassers to knock on doors.

Raising money is O’Mara’s biggest challenge, but he also acknowledges he lacks visibility and needs to get to know more people in his district.

Peacock endorses women’s rights to reproductive choice, campaign finance and gun reform legislation, and full funding for public schools and tuition-free college. She has pledged to protect Dreamers and work for immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. How, exactly, does her platform differ from O’Mara’s?

O’Mara concedes his platform does not differ much from Peacock’s, but says his focus on “basic kitchen table issues”  such as health care, will help win over voters in the conservative district.

Peacock also supports Medicare for all.

Health care is considered a top issue for voters going into 2020 according to a recent CNN survey, but support for Medicare for All has decreased while support for Medicare buy-ins have increased in the past year states a Quinnipiac University poll.

“Every time you take these sort of half measures,” O’Mara said about buy-ins, “all you’re doing is you’re providing more of a handout to a kind of pointless middlemen and insurance companies.”

However, the notion of universal health care is still a tough sell.

“People do say, ‘Oh you’re crazy socialist,’ and I will run into lots of people out there that make those kind of arguments. I’m going to have to engage on the substance of what socialism means,” O’Mara said.

O’Mara believes his experience as an educator – including his Chapman experience – will be a boon to his campaign.

“Having to learn how to boil down complex concepts into just a few minutes and communicating them effectively to students can probably be an advantage in boiling down complex issues in legislation,” said O’Mara.

O’Mara has received positive reactions to his run from the Chapman community.

“Liam is better able to see the deeper reasons behind some of our enduring problems like income inequality, racial discord, and difficulties in gaining full access to health care,” Gregory Daddis, the director of the master’s program in war and society, wrote in an email to Prowl.

Alex Bay, a sophomore kinesiology major and former student of O’Mara, says that his former professor’s background may aid him in his candidacy.

“He’s very educated on the world and has traveler to a variety of different place,” Bay said. “I feel like maybe his experiences through his travels and engagement with different cultures could be applied to his field of work.”

O’Mara does not want to give up teaching entirely if he wins. Though he fears for the world his students will inherit, he is hopeful for the future.

“It’s tempting sometimes for a lot of people to look around and say the world is full of sexism and violence and racism and all this bigotry,” said O’Mara, “But it’s nothing like what it was when I was a kid – and that is down to each new generation of younger people saying ‘we will not take this crap anymore.’”

Voting Changes Coming to OC the Biggest in the County’s History

Basic polling stations, such as this one, will be replaced by Vote Centers in 2020. Photo by Elliot Stallion, courtesy of UnSplash.

Orange County is making it easier for you to vote.

But a spokesperson for the City of Orange says the municipality has yet to be told that changes are coming.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted on Feb. 26 to overhaul the traditional voting model and enact a “voter center” model–known as the California Voter’s Choice Act–that eliminates regular precincts and expands the number of days for voting. The new model allows people to vote at any Vote Center in the county – as opposed to reporting to a particular precinct – four to 10 days prior to Election Day – as opposed to just Election Day – with the Centers open on weekends. All eligible voters will also receive a vote-by-mail ballot sent to their house. Trained staff with customer service and administrative skills will replace paid volunteers.

The modifications represent the most significant in the county’s elections since 1890.

Voters want an easier voting process according to Vote Center Briefing Report. The changes are to accommodate voter’s desires to cast their ballots on their own terms.

About 68% of voters in Orange County receive permanent vote-by-mail ballots, which leaves about 32% who vote in person.

Permanent vote-by-mail voters will rise to 90% of eligible voters with only 20% of ballots cast at polling places in a few years, claims the report. It is expected that over 1,000 polling places will be nearly empty on Election Day as a result, which will waste “County resources and taxpayers dollars”.

Vote Centers will serve as in-person polling places, vote-by-mail drop-offs, and as places to disburse replacement ballots. Residents will also be able to register and vote on the same day,  and check their registration and ballot statuses, according to the report. Vote Centers are more secure, and electronic poll books provide real-time voter data, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters’ website.

The Registrar of Voters’ website and Voter Information Guide will include a list of Vote Centers to help voters find locations near them, said Community Outreach Manager for the Registrar of Voters, Jackie Wu. Possible Voter Center locations include city halls, libraries, community centers, and school district offices.

The changes are expected to roll out in March 2020, Wu said. The Registrar “[plans] on implementing extensive outreach and education efforts with community workshops, media plans, speaking engagements,” to make voters aware of their new options, Wu said,

The new system is expected to offer flexibility while saving money: It is projected to save about $10 million to $20 million initially, then hundreds of thousands of dollars for the following statewide elections, the briefing report states.

Orange is the seventh California county to enact the Voter’s Choice Act. Five out the 14 counties in California have already made the switch, with Los Angeles County recognized as the sixth in 2020 by the Voter’s Choice website.

Efforts to change the voting system started in 2013, making the reform six years in the running.

The Board voted for “Option 1” of the Voter Center Model, which includes 188 Vote Centers – a steep decrease from the 1,100 polling places operating during the 2016 election.

Option 2, which would have provided 313 Vote Centers and Option 3, which would have provided 500, would have cost more to operate than Option 1.

The switch may benefit voters, because it allows more time to cast a ballot, said junior public relations and advertising major Erica Lucia, who worked on the Anaheim mayoral campaign last year.

“In the 2018 election, the lines were really long towards the end of day, which discouraged people from voting,” Lucia said. “Having so many extra days to early vote will cut down on line congestion, especially because it will encourage voters to drop off their mail in ballots ahead of time rather than on Election Day.”

However, Option 1 also presents some disadvantages, particularly to people who are accustomed to voting at polls very near their homes. With fewer Vote Centers, voter-dense areas may have longer lines and bilingual support may not be as widely available. The locations of Vote Centers may also require more research “to avoid perceived marginalization in certain communities,” the report says.

However, the City of Orange has yet to receive direction from the Registrar, said Public Affairs and Information Manager Paul Sitkoff.

“Until we are given direction, the only answer we have is that we are continuing with voting as normal,” Sitkoff said.

A special election will be held in November to fill a vacancy on the Orange City Council. Elections in 2019 will continue to use the traditional model until the switch in 2020, said Wu in an email to Prowl.

“The Registrar of Voters is currently developing outreach and education plans, which will include city officials, to inform the public of the transition to vote centers leading up to 2020,” Wu said.

To register to vote in Orange County for the 2020 election, visit the Secretary of State’s website. To find out more about these changes, contact the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

Pralle-Sodaro Hall to Receive New Water Refill Stations After Student Requests

Junior biology and Spanish major Crosby Tinucci gets his daily fill at the water refill stations. Over 77 percent of students use the water stations at least once a week, according to Chapman’s 2013 Environmental Survey. Photo by Emily Tucker.

You can thank a Student Government Association (SGA) senator for the new water filling stations coming to Pralle-Sodaro Hall’s first and third floor lounges.

Students at Chapman University rely on the multiple water bottle filling stations throughout campus for their water needs. However, only three of these water bottle filling stations are close to the nine on-campus housing buildings. On Feb. 8, SGA approved the funding to add two new stations in Pralle.

There are 17 water refill stations at the university according to Chapman’s 2016 Waste Management and Dining Services Audit. Since 2012, the only water refill stations near the residence halls are in Henley Hall basement, Panther Village, Davis Community Center, and near the Doti-Struppa Rock Wall.

The Chapman website states that it received an award as the Most Sustainable School in Orange County in 2014 by the U.S. Green Building Council. But students say the lack of sustainable water filling stations led them to buy Brita filters or water bottles, according to the 2016 Chapman Environmental Waste Audit.

Freshman Lowerclassmen SGA Senator Nicole Katz suggested adding a water-bottle filling station to Pralle after campaigning during her run for Senate in Fall 2018. She went door-to-door talking to residents, many who complained about the closest water-filling station being in Henley, she said.

“I saw a petition placed in the lobby with tons of signatures, and I knew I needed to work to provide the residents in the building what they wanted,” Katz said via email.

Residence Life and First Year Experience and the SGA split the cost of the water station, said Director of Residence Life and First Year Experience Dave Sundby.  Katz reached out again in January 2019 with an estimate $100 less than initially proposed. “I think it was going to be initially close to $1,000 and it ended up being closer to like $700 or $800,” Sundby said.

There is no set date for when the refill stations will become available, but Katz guesses that students will have to wait a few weeks once the units have been purchased.

Katz said that there were past attempts to secure water refill stations, but those endeavors fell through because of the difficulties with the installation process.

“I circumvented the previous issues by finding point-of-use units that already connected to existing water supplies, which were rather inexpensive,” Katz said.

“(Facilities Management) was able to use the plumbing that already existed in the Pralle lounge to find a place for the station, which is a cheaper option than a standalone installation,” Sundby said.

“It’s hard to retrofit something that’s like five or 10 or 20 years older and make it work,” Sundby said about older dorms like Glass Hall.

Sundby said Chapman Sustainability Manager Mackenzie Crigger plans to add more refill stations.

“Her plan is that at some point to secure funding to at least do more of these where they are stalled in existing sink locations, so they’re cheaper and more accessible,” Sundby said. “She didn’t specify buildings. She didn’t specify timeline.”

Crigger declined requests for comment.

According to the 2016 Environmental audit, 64 percent of Chapman students would support a ban of single-use plastic bottles if additional soda fountains and water refill stations were installed.

“I’d love to see an overall reduction of plastic bottles through an increase in filling stations for reusable bottles and water fountains,” said Morgan Shirk, a freshman screenwriting major who totes a reusable bottle herself.

As of 2017, 85 institutions – including Harvard University, Princeton University, Cornell University, and University of California, Berkeley– have implemented campus-wide bottle bans,  according to the Ban the Bottle, an organization that tracks plastic bottle bans in schools..

“Those who do not use a reusable water bottle regularly,” –about 13 percent of students– “criticized the lack of accessible water stations or a place for them to clean a personal bottle,” states the 2016 audit.

“Water should be accessible, especially more accessible in and around the dorms to encourage a more green campus,” Shirk said. “Our dorms are our living spaces.”