(The Center Square) – With a majority of colleges in Illinois requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before attending classes, one organization is pushing back.
Young Americans for Liberty is coordinating with student leaders at 23 public campuses around the country, including at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, to speak out against the forced mandates.
Spokesman Eric Brakey says the organization is not anti-vaccine, but rather anti-vaccine mandate at taxpayer-funded academic institutions.
“That is not what America is supposed to be,” Brakey said. “Those are the kind of policies we saw in the Soviet Union that we used to make fun of a generation ago.”
Brakey said the movement was born at Rutgers, the first university to mandates COVID-19 vaccines for their students. In particular, one student was locked out of his school email and other accounts because he is unvaccinated, despite taking only virtual classes at home miles away from campus.
Last month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced vaccine requirements for educators, health care workers and college students. Before the order, Illinois colleges and universities made their own rules regarding vaccinations.
Brakey said there are boots on the ground in Champaign-Urbana.
“Our activists at the University of Illinois are making fellow students aware there is a religious exemption for COVID vaccination, ensuring they have the paperwork needed to file for that exemption, and petitioning the administration to extend the deadline for filing. We are proud of the work being done by our young activists in the fight for medical freedom,” Brakey said in a statement.
YAL leaders said they have also influenced policymaking at the state level. Members of the group’s Hazlitt Coalition, the organization’s network of more than 170 legislators from nearly 40 states, have filed 25 bills defending American citizen’s rights against what they call COVID-19-related infringements.
“Individuals should be free to make their own healthcare decisions with their doctors,” Brakey said. “Instead, taxpayer-funded college administrators are imposing one-size-fits-all vaccine mandates on every student, regardless of disability or natural immunity status.”