The University of Notre Dame set out to vaccinate its student body against COVID-19 in April 2021. To accomplish its goal, Notre Dame’s administration promised to end some of the draconian restrictions on campus if it could achieve 90 percent student compliance.
The administration changed course from strongly encouraging the experimental vaccines to mandating them within days, making Notre Dame one of the first universities to require the experimental COVID-19 vaccine for the following school year’s admission. To encourage students to vaccinate before they left for summer break, the administration promised if students complied, more activities would be available for senior week and graduation.
Sweetening the deal even further, the university loaded $15 onto the meal cards of obedient students. In record time, the school reached its initial goal of getting 90 percent of students vaccinated.
Despite students being at low risk of complications from the virus as well as questions about the long-term effects of the vaccine, no great campus protest erupted as a result of the mandate. Some anxious students, however, filed medical and religious exemptions.
Amidst the vaccination drive, two Notre Dame law professors — Gerard Bradley and Thomas Paprocki — wrote a letter in the student newspaper to provide students valid religious and medical reasons to support exemptions, noting it “would be immoral” to exclude students from campus who declined to be vaccinated. Unfortunately, however, the letter came after many students had already received their initial jabs.
Although it appears an overwhelming majority of students took doses, many staff and faculty held back, as it was still optional for Notre Dame employees. After a year of employees voluntarily uploading their vaccine status in Notre Dame’s database, the vaccination figure for faculty was 71 percent and for the rest of the staff was 56 percent. Yet Notre Dame also scrapped its voluntary vaccine plan for employees and simply mandated the vaccine for all of the school’s workers.
Threatening ‘A World of Pain’ to Cautious People
With Orwellian flair, the university announced that employee religious exemption requests would be routed through its Office of Institutional Equity. The exemption
Continue reading on thefederalist