UConn students and families are threatening litigation if school officials don’t rescind a recent decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine for the fall semester.
As colleges begin making plans for what school will look like in the fall, more and more are announcing that the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory. However, some are pushing back against those mandates, including a parental rights nonprofit and families of UConn students who recently learned that they too will have to abide by a COVID-19 vaccine mandate come fall.
Ryan P. McLane, an attorney representing The Family Freedom Endeavor and a group of UConn students and parents sent a request to interim university president Dr. Andrew Agwunobi and outgoing president Thomas Katsouleas to have the university “withdraw the current vaccine mandate.” He warned that if the “university does not revoke its mandate, the group will litigate the issue to prevent the irreparable harm to their rights and potentially their physical selves.”
The Family Freedom Endeavor is a Florida-based nonprofit incorporated last month. It exists to fight for the “rights of individuals and the family over government-imposed regulations and restrictions.”
Representatives for UConn pushed back against McLane, and one spokesperson, Stephanie Reitz, said that the “university’s polling of students found the vast majority said they are willing and want to receive the vaccine, and would support such a policy.” In early June, the UConn Board of Trustees voted that it will “require students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester.”
UConn isn’t the only university to make such an announcement. In fact, Yale University, the University of Hartford, Wesleyan University, and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system will also require the vaccine for the fall semester.
These types of requirements have sparked fierce backlash across the country, and dozens of lawsuits have been filed as a result. For example, Indiana University was hit with one earlier this month that argued its “vaccine mandate violates students’ constitutional rights.” Another suit filed against the California State University system by students “who have recovered from COVID-19 argues that getting vaccinated would endanger the students’ health.”
When announcing that UConn would require the vaccine, Agwunobi told the school community that the “goal of the university’s vaccination mandate is to help safeguard health and wellness on our campuses and in our communities by reducing the risk that the virus will be transmitted and cause illness, particularly in high-density congregant settings such as residence halls, dining halls, and classrooms.”
He added, “The policy allows students to apply for exemptions, including for medical and other reasons.” However, students who qualify for exemptions will be asked to follow health and safety protocols, including mask-wearing and COVID-19 testing.