NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Rutgers University was hit with a lawsuit Monday by a nonprofit activist group and 18 students who are fighting against the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Children’s Health Defense is the group and the 18 students have either been enrolled at Rutgers for one or more years or recently accepted offers of admission.
Peter Cordi is one of the students involved in the suit. With only nine credits left, he’s entering his senior year but getting his diploma from Rutgers is uncertain.
“It makes me feel trapped,” Cordi said. “It’s really terrible. I actually don’t know if I’ll be able to graduate now.”
As reported by NJ.com, Julio Gomez, the lawyer representing the students and Children’s Health Defense, says the mandate is both illegal and unconstitutional saying it “violates the right to informed consent and to refuse unwanted medical treatment guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.”
“They’re forcing us to play Russian roulette with our own health,” Cordi said. “If you want to take the risk, that’s okay. There’s risk involved on both ends, but who’s the school to make medical decisions for us, for us students?”
Named defendants in the suit include the university, its board of governors, Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, Executive Vice President of the Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences Brian Strom and the university’s school of biomedical and health sciences.
A Rutgers spokesperson said the school’s vaccine plan was “consistent with the legal authority supporting this policy.”
“The university’s position on vaccines is consistent with the legal authority supporting this policy. We are committed to creating a safe campus environment in fall 2021, and to support the health and safety for all members of the Rutgers community, the university updated its existing immunization requirements for students to include the COVID-19 vaccine,” the spokespersons said.
The Rutgers website shows that other vaccines are required, which Cordi admits to being vaccinated for, but that was before converting to Christianity, so he’s hoping to get approved for a religious exemption.
“This is something that I can’t compromise on,” Cordi added. “It’s my faith and it’s my health at hand here and if this is rejected and if my religious exemption is rejected as well, then I’m going to have to put my whole life and my whole career on hold.”
Students return to campus in two weeks which means Cordi doesn’t have much time for an answer before school starts. He says as a kid, Rutgers was his dream school and if he gets denied, he’ll have no other choice but to get his degree somewhere else.