University Scrubs Website Of COVID Vaccine Mandate Five Months After It Was Reversed

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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UPDATE: This piece has been updated to include statements from Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) and University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM).

  • The University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) scrubbed its website of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate until approximately five months after its governing system repealed the mandate, a university spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), a student activism group, discovered that the university webpage still read that the vaccine was required despite the University of Louisiana System reversing the mandate in October 2022.
  • “When dealing with campus officials, actions speak louder than words,” JP Kirby, YAL director of student rights, told the DCNF.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) scrubbed its website of any reference to its COVID-19 vaccine mandate approximately five months after the university system walked back the requirement for students, a university spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The University of Louisiana (UL) System, which governs nine total campuses, rescinded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate in October 2022, a system spokesperson told the DCNF. ULL did not update its website to reflect the change until March 2023, Eric Maron, ULL senior communications representative, confirmed to the DCNF. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Tenney Introduces Bill Preventing Colleges From Continuing To Impose COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates)

“The vaccine was not required after October 2022,” he said. “The omission of this information from the website was inadvertent.”

YAL discovered the discrepancy after a March 23 email from UL System President Jim Henderson was sent to inform members that a YAL petition advocating for ULL to rescind its mandate was “unequivocally false,” according to a screenshot of the email provided to the DCNF. Henderson clarified that Louisiana law prohibits the institutions from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of admittance.

“We live in an era where outrage has emerged as a useful tactic for organizations to generate attention,” Henderson allegedly wrote. “Sometimes it is warranted. Sometimes it stems from misunderstanding. Often it is simply not based in reality. Please know you are always welcome to bring any concerns to me, my staff, or our university presidents at any time. The vast majority of those concerns will be quickly and easily alleviated.”

The University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) and the University of New Orleans (UNO) also revised their websites in March to wipe reference to a COVID-19 mandate, according to YAL. UNO’s current website does not mention COVID-19 as a required vaccine.

ULM’s website maintained that students were still required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as of December 2023, according to a screenshot obtained by the DCNF. An archived version of its website dated December 2023 shows the mandate language as well.

“In March of this year, we removed the COVID-19 vaccination from our immunization schedules and archived our COVID-19 webpages,” Brice Jones, ULM executive director of marketing and communications, told the DCNF. “This was in response to guidance from the University of Louisiana System (ULS), of which we are a member institution. We have not communicated this change to our current students; the updated immunization schedule will be in place for new, incoming students.”

He clarified that the school has “not had a COVID-19 ‘mandate,’ as Louisiana law prohibits it,” and that students were able to “provide written dissent or a physician’s statement.”

“We found out the webpages that housed the schools’ vaccine policies were being taken down or revised [March 23]. We received a copy of the attached email from Dr. Henderson’s desk through some of our contacts in the Louisiana State Legislature,” JP Kirby, YAL director of student rights, told the DCNF. “I had visited Louisiana Lafayette’s website the [March 16] and the mandate was still listed, our South Regional Director had visited University of New Orleans’ on [March 22] and the mandate was still listed. After receiving this email from Dr. Henderson, we began looking at the websites and both ULL and UNO had updated their websites. We looked up UL Monroe’s website and it still contained the mandate language. We immediately grabbed a timestamped screenshot of it. Later that day we checked again and it had been taken down!”

Carter Rachal, YAL’s Louisiana state chair and ULL student, began circulating a petition calling on ULL to repeal the vaccine mandate on Feb. 9, Kirby explained to the DCNF.

“I was excited to tell all the other YAL members that our hard work had paid off,” Rachal told the DCNF. “We had been out gathering signatures in support of our petition every day since the beginning of February. Hearing that we succeeded in our endeavor just made my day.”

The group “decided to push back against the mandate because it’s something all the YAL members here really wanted gone from the beginning and we knew we would have a lot of support from our fellow students,” Rachal explained to the DCNF.

“When dealing with campus officials, actions speak louder than words,” Kirby told the DCNF. “When faced with criticism campus bureaucrats often try to twist words and deflect responsibility. When campus activists are committed to building a student movement on campus that supports real freedom, and expect real results–not talking points, changes will come from those very same campus officials.”

YAL works with students across the country to help them strike back against university-imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The organization has successfully advocated for dropping mandates at the University of Maine System, Colorado School of Mines and Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.

The efforts are part of YAL’s Student Rights Campaign, which helps students “fight back against tyrannical policies on campuses that limit students’ natural rights and show clear abuse of administrative power,” its website reads.

Rachal told the DCNF he wants “people to realize that it’s entirely possible to make change.”

“Nowadays people view our system as broken, and it’s easy to see why,” Rachal said. “However with victories such as ours, it goes to show that with enough support and determination, you can succeed in making change for the better in your community. Though it may be long and hard work, nothing worth doing ever comes easy.”

UNO did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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