MONTCLAIR, NJ – The student is concerned that his civil rights have been violated after his college in New Jersey changed the vaccine requirements.
But on Thursday, the school said that was not the case because the accommodation was not refused based on one’s faith, Cory James reported with CBS2.
Jared Vigil is worried that he will soon not be allowed to live on campus again. A student at Montclair State University has asked to be exempted from the mandate of the vaccine against COVID-19, which the school imposed last year for religious reasons. The email indicates it has been approved for the spring semester. However, a recent policy change says “students currently granted an exemption from religion” can no longer live on campus as of this summer.
“It specifically targets people with religious exceptions,” Vigil said. “The Bible says your body is a holy temple. I just don’t believe I should do that.”
Dawn Meza Soufleris is vice president of student development and campus life in the state of Montclair. She said the new policy affects less than 1 percent of school students.
“According to the CDC and other health guidelines, it’s congregational housing, where transmission rates are higher and that’s why it was very important for us to order vaccines,” Soufleris said.
Vigil said that he is worried that he believes that this violates the Law on Fair Housing.
CBS2 raised that concern with attorney Michael Wildes, a former federal prosecutor who has worked on housing cases for the past three decades.
“I believe this could be a case where they are violating it because an individual is treated in one space in one way and in another space in another,” Wildes said.
In a statement, Montclair State said: “New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law allows the university to impose conditions and restrictions on access to property as long as it applies to all persons. In this case, Montclair does not deny access to its housing. According to any person’s faith. Montclair’s accommodation is available to all as long as they are fully vaccinated. Therefore, there can be no violation of civil rights. “
Montclair State is not the only school in New Jersey to implement this kind of policy. Rutgers University and the College of New Jersey have similar rules that prohibit students who have not been vaccinated from living on campus.
Montclair State says 69 students had a religious exemption for the vaccine and wanted to live on campus, adding that 19 of those students have since committed to or begun the process of being fully vaccinated. School officials are encouraging the remaining 50 students to contact Residents Life staff to discuss their circumstances so they can be accommodated.
Wildes added: “We should work to ease the mandate because we are bringing this pandemic under control, and we cannot allow unjustified discrimination based on the decision to get vaccinated or not. But we must also be realistic that additional precautions in dealing with certain vulnerable populations that may require special treatment.If there is an outbreak of an infection that could have been prevented in one of these situations, people will insist that nothing is done.This poses a potential risk to human life against the imposition of personal freedom just as we had to do during this pandemic, and there is no universal solution. We must consider the facts of each given situation and make an educated decision on a case-by-case basis. ”