MSU employees fired over vaccine mandate, file lawsuit

The school announced the policy in July.
Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 10:47 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2021 at 10:59 PM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Some Michigan State University students said goodbye to the school Tuesday night after refusing to get vaccinated against coronavirus, something the university is requiring.

A couple of MSU staff members were also let go and are filing a lawsuit against the college.

Students on campus have mixed reactions to the situation.

MSU freshman Ishan Baweja agrees with the school’s decision to mandate the COVID vaccine. The school announced the policy in July. He’s glad the university is sticking to its guns.

“There’s the whole, ‘My body, my choice,’ but when it’s affecting other people’s lives, I think it’s valid that they should be getting the vaccine,” Baweja said. “You know, you don’t have to be on campus if you don’t want to get the vaccine. So if you’re on campus, you should get the vaccine for everyone else’s safety.”

Fellow MSU classmate Sydney Noon is on the other side of the issue.

“Since they have come with another way to do a spit test and test students and faculty for that COVID virus, I think that it’s wrong to fire them,” Noon said.

The employees have decided to file a lawsuit against MSU. Attorney Jenin Younes, with the National Civil Liberties Alliance, said the staff already had COVID, so they believe natural immunity will keep them protected.

“They’re not people who said, ‘Oh, I think I had COVID,’ or ‘ I had a positive PCR test so I probably have immunity,’” Younes said. “They have recent antibodies serological tests that demonstrate that they actually have an ongoing durable robust immunity.”

School officials said they’re following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose research shows that being fully vaccinated better protects people from COVID than a previous infection.

Younes disagrees and said it’s a violation of people’s rights for a public school to mandate the vaccine.

“We argue that there are fundamental rights that are at issue. Therefore -- this government action should be subject to what’s known as strict scrutiny. Whereas the other side -- and unfortunately the judge in our case found that rational basis level analysis applies,” Younes said. “So the government only has to show that it has an interest and that there’s some rational link between the means and the ends. We don’t think that’s appropriate. We think that of a vaccine requirement like this actually implicates fundamental rights so strict scrutiny should apply.”

It’s not the first time the NCLA stepped in. They represented another faculty member who refused the vaccine mandate but ended up losing in the state’s Western District Court.

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