In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, eight students allege that the requirement that students, staff and faculty be vaccinated against the virus before returning to campus in the fall violates the Fourteenth Amendment, which includes rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity and the right to reject medical treatment, and Indiana’s recently passed “vaccine passport” law.
The students say IU’s mandate is more than that. In the complaint, the students say they feel they’re being coerced into vaccination under “the threat of virtual expulsion from school.”
IU’s vaccine requirement came from recommendations put forth by the university’s “restart committee,” charged by IU President Michael McRobbie with getting campuses back to pre-pandemic operations. But the mandate has been embroiled in controversy since it was announced last month. State officials have called on the university to rescind the mandate; others have asked Gov. Eric Holcomb to block it. Attorney General Todd Rokita issued a public opinion that it violated state law.
The “vaccine passport” language was added to state law in the waning hours of the most recent legislative session. It prohibits the state or local units of government from mandating proof of vaccination as a condition for receiving services or employment. While lawmakers, at the time, said they did not see the law applying to schools, Rokita said it did extend to public institutions, including IU.
Responding to public pressure and Rokita’s opinion, university officials said earlier this month that the requirement would stand but documentation to prove vaccination status would no longer be required. Individuals simply have to certify their status through an online form.
The university said this change in policy puts it within the bounds of state law.
“The university is confident it will prevail in this case,” said university spokesman Chuck Carney. “Following release of the Indiana attorney general’s opinion, our process was revised, with uploading proof of vaccination no longer required. The attorney general’s opinion affirmed our right to require the vaccine.” Read Full Article >