Group plans to file lawsuit against University System of Maryland over vaccine mandate

The University System of Maryland announced it will require all students and faculty to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A coalition is filing a lawsuit against the mandate, alleging it is a step towards the loss of 'freedom of choice regarding medical intervention.'

The chancellor of the University System of Maryland issued a COVID vaccination mandate for all students and employees. Now, a coalition of Marylanders are trying to take legal action against the change.

In April, Chancellor Jay A. Perman announced that all University System of Maryland (USM) students, faculty, and staff are mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“And I’m convinced that the risk of doing too little to contain COVID on campus this fall is far greater than the risk of doing too much. For this reason, I’m requiring that all eligible students, faculty, and staff who will be on our Maryland campuses this fall be vaccinated against COVID,” Perman stated. 

“Of course, we’ll comply with all federal and state laws in granting appropriate exemptions for medical or religious reasons,” he added.

In response to the news, the Coalition for a Future Maryland (CFMD) formed in April in order to “stop discriminatory policies against students and employees who choose to not receive the vaccine for medical, religious, or other reasons.”

CFMD is a self-described “all-volunteer, grassroots coalition of community members, parents, students, employees, and concerned citizens who promote access to education, employment, housing and community.”

Perman acknowledged in his announcement the hesitancy some have towards the vaccine by admitting, “And I do understand that some people have concerns about the vaccines. I want to say to those people that I hear you, I’ve read the letters you sent. I appreciate that you have fears, misgivings.”

In a statement to Campus Reform, University System of Maryland spokesperson Mike Lurie said that “each university [part of the USM system] has developed or is developing specific protocols and guidance that it will communicate in the weeks ahead to its campus community regarding vaccine documentation, exemption requests, and protocols that unvaccinated members of its community must follow.” 

When asked if the mandate applies to online students, Lurie told Campus Reform that the “vaccine mandate applies to all students and employees who will be on a University System of Maryland campus for any reason at any time during the fall.”

“Many campuses have developed an attestation document that online students will be asked to sign, indicating they will not be coming to campus for any reason (such as using the library or any other campus facility), in order for the mandate not to apply to that individual,” he added.

[RELATED: Indiana University students sue school over vaccine mandate]

Last month, CFMD released a new statement in opposition to the mandate.

“It is imperative that immediate action is taken so the University System of Maryland mandate regarding the Covid-19 injection is effectively challenged in court. This legal challenge is important for our young people and for the employees of USM. It is also a fight for all of us,” a June press release states.

“We support vaccinations as a personal choice. The Covid-19 injections are still without full FDA approval, and the clinical trials did not follow the standard scientific protocol, therefore; we strongly believe this needs to be a choice without reprisals,” the press release continues.

The coalition of nearly 800 volunteers is actively fundraising $100,00 to cover the “litigation costs” associated with its future injunction against USM.

“We are taking immediate steps to stop this mandate by raising funds to support legal action on behalf of students and staff from the USM,” CFMD president Eszter Szabo told Campus Reform.

“Contributed funds will go towards legal fees, securing expert witnesses and cover litigation costs related to the case to overturn the vaccine mandate at the publicly funded USM,” the website states.

[RELATED: OR community college waives vaccine requirement, citing diversity and equity]

Szabo told Campus Reform that USM and Governor Larry Hogan have been “unresponsive to student and staff concerns regarding the injection of an EUA product with a warning label from the FDA.” 

“If they do not comply, students will lose equal access to their education and campus activities and employees, in some instances, will be placed on 12 weeks paid leave and then terminated. Those who receive religious exemptions will be subjected to various discriminatory practices depending on each school’s policies,” Szabo continued.

Explaining why their movement is important, Szabo said, “If we do not stop this mandate now, the precedent will be set. We will ultimately loose [sic] our freedom of choice regarding medical interventions. We will also start seeing such mandates for children in grades K-12 as well.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @redwave1776