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Opposition From Republican Officials Grows Against IU COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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Joey Mendolia
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WFIU/WTIU

Pressure is building on Indiana University to repeal its requirement that students, faculty and staff receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The vast majority of the Indiana Senate Republican Caucus sent a letter to IU Thursday, expressing “grave concerns” over what they call its “heavy-handed mandate.”

READ MORE: How Is Indiana Distributing COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know

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The GOP legislators’ letter said IU’s policy would force students – which the lawmakers call the “lowest at-risk demographic” – to make a decision based on economics rather than health and individual responsibility.

At the same time, prominent conservative attorney Jim Bopp has filed a public records request with the university. Bopp, acting on behalf of a group called “IU Family For Choice, Not Mandates” wants documents related to how and why the university created its COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

Bopp said the records request will help determine whether the mandate is, in his words, “justified.”

The Senate GOP letter and Bopp's records request follow a similar letter from some Indiana House Republicans asking the governor to halt IU's mandate. Attorney General Todd Rokita also weighed in on the issue this week, opining that a new state law prevents the university from requiring proof of vaccination – but not requiring the vaccinations themselves.

The University of Notre Dame –which is a private university– is requiring vaccines for students, faculty and staff. Purdue University is strongly encouraging vaccines and Ball State University has said COVID-19 vaccines aren't required, though that may change if moved from emergency use authorization to full FDA approval.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.