WMU loses vaccine appeal

A federal appeals court shot down the university's vaccine mandate for athletes.

Sixteen athletes at Western Michigan University have won their battle over a university’s requirement that they get vaccinated in order to participate in sports.

Originally, four student athletes filed suit against WMU at the beginning of the school year because they were not allowed to play due to their vaccination status. Subsequently, 12 more students signed on to the lawsuit.

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A federal judge ruled in September that the requirement violated the students’ constitutional right to free exercise of religion because they all cited their faith in refusing to be vaccinated. The university appealed, and the appeals court ruled 3-0 on Thursday in favor of the students.

“We do not doubt [WMU’s] good faith, nor do we fail to appreciate the burdens COVID-19 has placed on this nation’s universities,” wrote the court in its ruling. “But having announced a system under which student-athletes can seek individualized exemptions, the university must explain why it chose not to grant any to plaintiffs. And it did not fairly do so here.”

The university can still require the athletes to wear masks and be tested regularly for COVID-19, according to the original ruling against WMU.

[WWMT, Fox 17]

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