Western Michigan Athletes Challenge Vaccine Mandate | Athletic Business

Western Michigan Athletes Challenge Vaccine Mandate

Four Western Michigan University women's soccer players have filed a federal lawsuit against the school, claiming the vaccine mandate imposed upon them is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

As reported by The Detroit News, Emily Dahl, Hannah Redoute, Bailey Korhorn and Morgan Otteson filed their suit on Monday against Western University Michigan, university President Edward Montgomery and its athletic director, Kathy Beauregard. They said the university's requirement that student athletes get vaccinated "seeks to override" their "sincerely held religious beliefs and viewpoint and discriminates against them on the basis of their religion."

"Defendants’ policies violate the First Amendment by punishing students who exercise their religious beliefs in connection with their personal medical decisions," according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court for Michigan's Western District.

For the rest of the student body, Western Michigan is requiring regular testing of those who are unvaccinated.

According to Fox News, while Western Michigan University does not have a schoolwide mandatory vaccination policy, it does require unvaccinated students to undergo regular testing. Unvaccinated student-athletes who are granted a religious exemption are barred from participating in practices or games, but they retain their athletic scholarships. The school says its vaccine requirement is necessary to protect student-athletes.

The four players claim they were told on Aug. 12 to be vaccinated by an Aug. 31 deadline or "lose their right to participate" in sports. The school purportedly rejected their requests for religious exemptions on Aug. 26, citing the need to avoid the "significant risk" of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The students asked the court to grant an injunction blocking Western Michigan University from implementing a mandatory vaccination policy and called on the court to declare the school's policy unconstitutional. They also requested unspecified damages and coverage of legal fees.

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