Two Big Ten universities, Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are taking drastically different approaches to vaccination mandates for returning students.
Indiana University is being sued by eight students who claim that the university’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate violates their Fourteenth Amendment rights to refuse medical treatment.
According to The College Fix, student Jaime Carini was denied exemption from the vaccine after a world-class infectious disease physician told her to avoid the vaccine due to her several chronic illnesses. Carini is among the eight students taking the public university to court.
The lawsuit argues that Indiana University is the only public university in the state with a vaccine mandate. Other schools are simply encouraging students to get the vaccine. The lawsuit also argues that the COVID-19 vaccines are authorized only for “emergency use,” meaning students must have “complete, informed, and voluntary consent.”
The lawsuit notes that Indiana has placed a state-wide ban on vaccine passports as well.
Following the suit, Indiana University updated its coronavirus vaccine mandate wording. The original wording insisted that students “report all doses” of the vaccine and upload documented proof of vaccination, including a photo of their vaccination card.
The school has since updated the wording and will no longer require proof of vaccination to be uploaded to its system. However, students must “attest that they are vaccinated” via an online report form.
Individuals who are vaccine exempt must wear masks, undergo semi-weekly testing, and undergo quarantine if they’re exposed to the coronavirus.
Indiana University spokesman Chuck Carney told Fox News that the university is confident it will win this case.
“The university is confident it will prevail in this case. Following the release of the Indiana attorney general’s opinion, our process was revised, with uploading proof of vaccination no longer required,” Carney said. “The attorney general’s opinion affirmed our right to require the vaccine.”
Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is taking a different approach to vaccination mandates by refusing to implement them altogether. Students, faculty, and staff will not have to take a COVID-19 test to return to campus and the university will not require social distancing or mask-wearing. The university will not require students to submit weekly tests either.
“Consistent with local and national public health guidance, face masks are no longer required, but are still recommended for unvaccinated individuals,” said Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Unvaccinated individuals should continue to protect themselves by wearing masks indoors and outdoors where physical distancing isn’t possible.”
According to The College Fix, the university had previously instituted the “Badger Badge” app, which prevented students from entering buildings if they had not been tested for coronavirus in a given week. The school will no longer use this feature.
A University of Wisconsin professor tweeted that she was upset with the university’s decision to return to normal.
“This just in: fall plans for [University of Wisconsin-Madison] include no vaccination requirement, no mask requirement, removal of physical distancing, campus buildings at full capacity, prohibition on asking whether anyone has been vaccinated. I hate this,” the professor said.
This just in: fall plans for @UWMadison include no vaccination requirement, no mask requirement, removal of physical distancing, campus buildings at full capacity, prohibition on asking whether anyone has been vaccinated. I hate this.
— Caroline Gottschalk Druschke (@creekthinker) June 24, 2021
According to the professor’s Twitter feed, she is fully vaccinated.