A national libertarian student organization is continuing to lead the charge against COVID-19 vaccine mandates on college campuses by setting their sights on the University of Maine System (UMS), the group told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is working with student activists to overturn the UMS’ vaccine mandate by calling Chancellor Dannel Malloy and working with state constituents whose tax dollars fund the university to send emails in support of repealing the policy, JP Kirby, YAL director of student rights, told the DCNF. The current policy applies to students and employees at all seven of its universities, according to its website.
“We want the school to know that they cannot deny the rights of students like this without people knowing, and schools that rely not only on taxpayer funding but, I’m sure, on private donations for many, many of their programs, they need to know that people are watching and people know when they are making excuses in the year 2023 about removing a mandate that never should have been instituted in the first place,” Kirby told the DCNF.
The policy, which remains in effect for the 2022-2023 academic year, mandates all students and employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but “strongly” encourages receiving a booster, according to the UMS website. Students and faculty are required to upload proof of their vaccination status through an online portal, while new students must complete a “COVID vaccine/exemption” document.
Several Republican state lawmakers sent a letter to the university demanding it repeal its vaccine mandate after the Maine Community College System repealed its requirement on Feb. 8, News Center Maine reported. UMS confirmed in a statement to the DCNF that it will continue its vaccine mandate through the end of the semester.
“We will be watching our partners at the Community College system as they make these changes in their vaccine policies, but at this point we are not prepared to change our’s,” Chancellor Malloy said in the statement UMS provided. “We made a promise to our students, faculty and staff that we would keep them safe through vaccination protocols and they have, in turn, made tremendous efforts to follow those protocols. I am extremely proud of them. Their commitment has helped us reach an outstanding compliance level. Until the FDA and CDC change their guidelines, walking back on our promise is something we are not what we’re willing to do.”
The statement confirmed that 98% of the UMS students in classrooms are compliant with the vaccine policy.
Kirby said that Malloy’s response to the lawmakers’ letter is “cowardly” and that the office will have “no peace until they have given an answer until their students.” YAL may consider contacting alumni or working with the legislature if the repeated contacting does not work.
The activists are mobilized through YAL’s Student Rights Campaign, which is how it helps students “fight back against tyrannical policies on campuses that limit students’ natural rights and show clear abuse of administrative power,” according to its website.
UMaine is only one of several schools YAL is targeting to repeal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Kirby said. He told the DCNF they have been successful at repealing mandates at Colorado School of Mines and Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.
The group also tackles self-defense problems including advocating for campus carry and removing pepper-spray bans, Kirby told the DCNF.
“It all starts with making sure that Chancellor Malloy knows that his life will be a lot more easy if he gives the rights to his students back to them without much of a problem,” Kirby said.