More than three years after the initial outbreak of COVID-19 and amid ample evidence that vaccination does not prevent infections, a group of students are applying pressure on the University of Maine System to repeal its current vaccine requirement.
The protesters, in association with the libertarian group Young Americans for Liberty, spoke out after UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy indicated that he would not take the same action as the state’s community college counterpart.
The Maine Community College System recently announced the end of its vaccine mandate. In a unanimous decision last month, its board of trustees approved a measure that affirmed: “Effective immediately, students at MCCS owned or controlled indoor spaces no longer require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of enrollment and attendance in on-campus activities.”
The president of Maine's community college system says high vaccination rates in the state and improved outcomes for people who contract COVID-19 spurred the decision to stop requiring the vaccine for students.https://t.co/CY7TJ7cM7s
— Portland Press Herald (@PressHerald) February 9, 2023
YAL Director of Student Rights J.P. Kirby opined that the UMS should follow suit.
“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,” he declared.
As it stands, students and staff at all seven of the university system’s schools are required to prove they have been fully vaccinated — with limited exceptions — and are “strongly” encouraged to receive booster shots.
“We want the school to know that they cannot deny the rights of students like this without people knowing,” Kirby said of the protest’s mission.
Reports indicate a number of GOP state legislators have also joined the effort by sending a letter to the UMS calling for it to follow the lead of the MCCS and drop its mandate.
Malloy noted that the UMS “will be watching our partners at the Community College System as they make these changes in their vaccination policies, but at this point we are not prepared to change ours.”
The former Democratic governor claimed that keeping the mandate in place is a way to honor “a promise to our students, faculty and staff that we would keep them safe through vaccination protocols,” explaining that the requirements will stay in place until the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention make changes to their respective guidelines.