EAST LANSING, Mich. — As of today, all Michigan State University students, staff and faculty need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Julian Stainback isn't.
He's starting his senior year at MSU.
“It’s the last year and it’s bittersweet because I finally get to be back on campus,” Stainback said.
He's excited for a more normal year with in person classes even if it means students have to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The process they sent out last week, saying if you can qualify for a medical, religious or online only exemption if you’re taking online classes only,” Stainback said.
He applied for a religious exemption.
“I wrote a statement about my religious beliefs and what I feel religiously, why it exempts me from the vaccine and they said they’ll get back with me hopefully by the first day of school, but I haven’t gotten anything, yet,” Stainback said.
While he waits for approval, Stainback said he'll need to participate in the Spartan Spit program. If he does get approved he'll still need to participate.
"I know for me if I get approved for an exemption I have to participate in Spartan Spit and so do a couple of other people that I know who got exemptions," Stainback said.
We reached out to MSU to talk about the vaccine mandate deadline, but did not hear back.
This mandate has drawn opposition.
Jeanna Norris, an administrative associate and fiscal officer with the university, is suing President Samuel Stanley and the Board of Trustees.
Norris claims she has natural immunity after recovering from the virus late last year. She said her immunologist told her it is medically unnecessary to get the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says scientists don't know how long having COVID protects you from getting it again.
Norris said the university has threatened disciplinary action or termination is she and other employees do not comply with the schools mandatory vaccination policy.
Norris is being represented by New Civil Liberties Alliance. They said two antibody tests show Norris's robust immunity to reinfection and she does not pose a threat to the MSU community.
The university will do random checks of students vaccination status throughout the year and follow up on any tips submitted the MSU Misconduct Hotline.