Purdue Announces First Golden Ticket Recipient As Part Of Effort To Incentivize Vaccinations

Jul 23, 2021

Incoming Freshman Quentin Betts is the first recipient of free tuition at Purdue as part of its vaccine initiative.
Credit Ben Thorp/WBAA News

Purdue University on Friday announced its first “Old Golden Ticket” recipient, who will receive a year’s free tuition to the university. 

In May, Purdue announced it would hold a tuition lottery for Purdue students who submit proof of vaccination.

Incoming Purdue freshman Quentin Betts was announced as the first of 10 students to receive a year’s free tuition to the university. He said he got the vaccine because he knew it’d be more convenient - and didn’t want to have to keep wearing a mask. 

“I wasn’t too worried about the coronavirus really,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. If you want to get the vaccine that’s your choice but I chose to get it.”

Bailey Leffler, Senior Brand Manager at Purdue, said the tuition lottery is intended to boost Purdue’s vaccination numbers. So far roughly 60 percent of students and 66 percent of employees have reported being fully vaccinated. 

“We elected to go with the choice method and we hope that speaks for itself,” she said.

Universities like Notre Dame and Indiana University have mandated the vaccine and are reporting higher overall vaccination rates. A spokesperson for Indiana University said over 80 percent of students, faculty, and staff across all campuses have submitted proof of vaccinations. 

At Notre Dame 90 percent of students were reportedly vaccinated in mid-April, with over 80 percent of faculty and staff vaccinated as of this week. 

Anita Barkin is the Co-Chair of the American College Health Association COVID-19 taskforce. She said they have recommended that when able, colleges and universities make vaccines a mandate. 

“We know that mandates work and kind of remove any question about should I or shouldn’t I and the school doesn’t have to think creatively about incentives,” she said.

And, Barkin said, vaccine requirements are a good way of reaching students who are ambivalent about getting vaccinated. 

“Are students particularly concerned about vaccines? No,” she said. “But you know what they are concerned about? Having a quality academic experience.” 

More broadly, Barkin said she disagrees with the idea that vaccination is being framed as an issue of personal choice at all. 

“It’s not as simple as saying let people do what they want and if they get sick they get sick,” she said. “If they get sick they could potentially infect other people who are more vulnerable and also they could be a host for a mutation [of COVID-19].”

Purdue will announce the remaining nine recipients of free tuition over the next week.