Image: Wikimedia Commons / SUZUKI Hironobu
Image: Wikimedia Commons / SUZUKI Hironobu

Students sue Indiana University over vaccine mandate

A group of students has sued Indiana University (IU) over its vaccine mandate.

In a federal lawsuit, eight students claim that the requirement that students, faculty, and staff must be vaccinated before returning to campus on 15 August violates both their rights and the state’s vaccine passport law.

This news comes after Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said that the school’s initial vaccine policy requiring students to upload documentation of their vaccine status “clearly runs afoul of [a new] state law”.

In a press release sent to all faculty, staff, and students, IU announced that they are “required to receive a Covid-19 vaccine”. IU warned employees that their employment will be terminated if they refuse the vaccine, and non-vaccinated students will lose access to all IU systems and have their class registration revoked.

Those with documented medical exemptions and legally-protected religious grounds do not need to be vaccinated.

However, the lawsuit by the students states that students feel they are being forced by IU into vaccination using “the threat of virtual expulsion from school”.

The requirement for all Indiana University students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated before the return to school in August remains in place

– Chuck Carney, IU Spokesperson 

The lawsuit argues that with the pandemic easing in the United States, universal vaccination at the university is not necessary.

“As the numbers continue to decline, such draconian measures as requiring all students to be vaccinated is not reasonable,” it states.

“They’re suing because they’re being stripped of their constitutional rights to make medical treatment decisions for themselves and to protect their own bodily integrity. After all, they are adults, and they would like to weigh the risks and consequences of taking the vaccination or getting Covid,” James Bopp Jr., lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told CNN.

Bopp Jr. has also filed a public records request asking for “all public records regarding the making of this decision and for all public records related to the implementation of this policy to determine whether or not this mandate is justified,” also warning that IU’s policy “opens the door to intentional religious discrimination”, and that the institution “could be in violation of federal law”.

On Tuesday 22 June, IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said: “The requirement for all Indiana University students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated before the return to school in August remains in place.

“As part of IU’s response to the ongoing pandemic, the vaccine mandate is helping to support a return to safe and more normal operations this fall. The university is confident it will prevail in this case.”

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