Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee announced it will charge a fee for non-vaccinated students who wish to return to campus
As the United States vaccinates more Americans, we’re fast approaching a conundrum: how do we encourage people to get vaccinated, while still respecting the privacy of those who can’t get the jab. Schools, especially, have the task of keeping everyone on the property safe, which is why Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, has come up with a plan: charge people who don’t get vaccinated and don’t have an honest medical reason for why not.
A local FOX affiliate reports that if a student doesn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, they will face a $1,500 Health & Safety fee per semester because of the cost of mandatory testing.
For international students who may not have access to vaccines in their home country before returning to school in the States – they can log their plan to be vaccinated upon arrival to campus by emailing the Director of International Programs. Doing so means they will not have to pay the fee, according to the release. The news comes as colleges across the country try to figure out a path to return to school.
Students who have not been vaccinated must undergo testing with negative results within 14 days of returning to campus. The release stated that although PCR tests are preferred and recommended, antigen testing will still be accepted. Test results can be uploaded through a portal.
A full vaccination is not required for anyone visiting the campus at Rhodes, but is recommended. According to the release, flu shots will still be required this fall. All students must submit their vaccination cards by Aug. 1 through the portal to prevent delays in their return to campus. Students who have medical or religious vaccine exemptions can speak to the department of Student Accessibility Services and may receive an exemption.
Many realize that in states with low vaccination rates, colleges will have little choice but to offer the Rhodes option.
University of Memphis law professor Steve Mulroy told Fox13-Memphis that Rhodes College students don’t have many other options when it comes to the school’s non-vaccinated fee.
“Students coming in, take it or leave it,” Mulroy said. “They can either get vaccinated or they can go to another school.”
Mulroy said because Rhodes is a private institution, it can impose any mandate it wants. Though Mulroy said there is one exception where a student could fight the fee mandate in court.
“If they truly have a disability, a medical disability that they can establish with competent medical evidence then under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act then they might be able to require that the school waive the vaccination requirement.
He said outside of the health exception, any case against the fee or possible vaccination requirements won’t hold up in court.
“Rhodes College has the authority and the discretion to impose the kind of fee structure and vaccine requirement structure that it thinks and it’s considered judgment is in the best interest of the health and safety of all the other students,” he said.
We might see way more of this playing out as schools prepare for the fall.