IU vaccination policy hardly improved


The (Columbus) Republic

Facing backlash from students, parents, faculty, staff, legislators, and the state’s attorney general, Indiana University altered its COVID-19 vaccination policy last week.

On May 21, IU had mandated that all students, staff and faculty — including those at satellite campuses such as IUPUC — be required to submit documentation of vaccination for the fall 2021 semester. At the time, IU said that staff and students not vaccinated would see their employment terminated and classes dropped.

As anyone could’ve guessed, the policy wasn’t received well by many.

In response, 19 Indiana House Republicans and 35 Senate Republicans signed letters to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb requesting he use executive power against the university’s vaccination policies. Soon after that, Attorney General Todd Rokita weighed in, issuing a non-binding opinion that IU was violating House Bill 1123, which outlaws “vaccine passports.”

Feeling the heat, IU made a change to its rules on June 2.

Now, rather than requiring everyone to show medical proof, IU is demanding a vaccine attestation form be filled out by those attending and working in the university system.

This new policy is hardly an improvement.

IU is essentially giving its staff and students three options: get vaccinated, lie about it and risk penalty, or leave the university altogether.

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, drafted the initial letter from the House that went to Holcomb.

“Asking to attest to it is the same as requiring it in my book,” Lucas said. “It’s lip service. They are putting people in the position to say ‘yes’ I meet the vaccination requirement, or to be dishonest with their private health information.”

Lucas is right on this one — IU is putting the unvaccinated in a precarious position. As a whole, the state is not even 40% vaccinated, so it’s not far-fetched to believe that there are many in the university system still not vaccinated.

This policy could especially hurt students coming from lower socio-economic backgrounds who could lose financial aid/scholarships if they don’t return to campus.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to help return to normal life, but threatening staff and students isn’t the way to go.

IU backed down a bit, but it’s current policy is still shaky and possibly illegal. If IU doesn’t revise its policy further, a litany of court cases could end up settling matters.

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