Three weeks into the fall semester, Purdue University said it has warned or taken disciplinary action against about 300 students and employees who failed to comply with its COVID-19 surveillance testing policies.
In a Sept. 10 news release, the Indiana-based public university said the vast majority of Purdue students are in compliance with its public health guidelines by either showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination or participating in regular surveillance testing, which can be as frequent as every week. However, 84 students remain in non-compliance, despite two prior warnings. A third violation will result in suspension.
Meanwhile, 214 Purdue employees have received an initial written warning that they are in non-compliance for failing to complete their required test. A staff member who is not compliant is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment, the university warned.
According to the university, as of Aug. 26, more than 80 percent of its 55,000 students and employees on the West Lafayette campus have been vaccinated.
Earlier this year, Indiana’s Republican-led legislature passed a law that “prohibits the state or a local unit from issuing or requiring a COVID-19 immunization passport.” The law, however, didn’t prevent Indiana University from requiring its students, faculty, and staff to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of enrollment or employment.
Indiana University’s vaccination mandate in June became the center of a lawsuit, in which eight students sought to block the policy on a Fourteenth Amendment basis. Seven of those students qualified for a religious exemption, but they were made to wear masks and undergo COVID-19 testing.
The students said in court filings that they have “a constitutional right to bodily integrity, autonomy, and of medical treatment choice in the context of a vaccination mandate.” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rotika also weighed in on the case, alleging that Indiana University violated the new state law.
“This session, members of the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation to codify in law a prohibition on COVID-19 vaccine passports, preventing public institutions from mandating proof of vaccination as a condition for receiving services or employment,” Rokita wrote in an official public opinion. “Indiana University’s policy clearly runs afoul of state law—and the fundamental liberties and freedoms this legislation was designed to protect.”
On Aug. 2, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the university, saying that students failed to show enough evidence that their constitutional rights were being violated. An attempt to challenge the policy in the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected last week by Justice Amy Coney Barrett.