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UL students concerned about rights amidst vaccine mandate

VACCINE MANDATE RIGHTS.JPG
Posted at 6:50 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 15:54:59-04

LAFAYETTE — Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are expressing concerns about their constitutional rights being infringed upon after the school announced its plans for mandating the COVID-19 vaccine next semester.

The only exemptions from this proof of vaccine requirement would be for legitimate medical or religious reasons, such as a doctor's note or written objection.

UL freshman Sydney Mack said she understands why the mandate was put in place, however she says the idea of forced vaccines makes her feel uneasy.

"People should be able to choose whether or not they get the vaccine," Mack said. "And they should be able to go where they want to, whether they have the vaccine or not."

KATC spoke with Rick Swanson, PhD, an associate professor of political science at UL about whether or not this truly is an infringement of the constitutional rights of students and faculty. He said the argument of infringement or lack thereof is akin to a balancing act.

"You might have a right to do something, but that's not an absolute right," Swanson said. "And in certain exceptions, the government for the public's interest in public safety, or health, or security can outweigh your claim of a right."

Alondra Meraz, a graduate student at UL, said that she believes others are concerned for their rights out of fear.

"At the end of the day we all agreed to this social agreement to our government that we will abide by their rules," Meraz said. "I think that if we are okay with that, then I think we should be okay with them telling us we should get this vaccine."

Students and faculty members at any of the nine campuses belonging to the University of Louisiana System who are still not interested in getting the coronavirus vaccine can get an exemption for any reason prior to the next registration period. A medical or religious reason is not required under state law.

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