A federal judge has ruled that Indiana University is allowed to continue mandating coronavirus vaccines for students in order for them to return to in-person classes on campus this fall.
In his ruling, U.S. district judge Damon Leichty said that Indiana University is not forcing anyone to get a vaccine, according to a report by NPR.
While it is true that students can qualify for an exemption, those who do not get vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus are subject to coronavirus testing, and will be forced to wear a mask while on campus.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated students who do not qualify for an exemption can have their classes canceled and even have their access to online university systems revoked, the report adds.
Last month, eight students sued Indiana University, asking for a preliminary injunction to cease the school’s policy. In the lawsuit, they argued that the rules trample in their rights under the 14th Amendment, “which includes rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity, and the right to reject medical treatment.”
The students, represented by the Bopp Law Firm, added that they were concerned with the risk of developing serious symptoms based on their age, and the unknown long-term effects of the new vaccine. The students also argued that the university’s mandate stood in opposition to modern medical ethics.
Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held an “emergency meeting” to discuss cases of heart inflammation disorders among young people after receiving a coronavirus vaccine.
This week, however, the court denied the motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have halted the vaccine requirement as the case worked its way through the courts.
Judge Leichty went on to claim that unvaccinated students and staff have options: they can get the vaccine, find a new school to attend, or find a new job.
“We appreciate the quick and thorough ruling which allows us to focus on a full and safe return,” said Indiana University spokesperson Chuck Carney in a statement to NPR. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to our campuses for the fall semester.”
James Bopp Jr., one of the attorneys representing the students, told NPR, “An admitted IU student’s right to attend IU cannot be conditioned on the student waiving their rights to bodily integrity, bodily autonomy, and consent to medical treatment like IU has done here.”
Bopp added that the students plan to appeal the judge’s decision.
Indiana University is one of several schools across the country requiring its students to get the jab or else be treated differently than their peers on campus via forced masking, and routine coronavirus testing.