August 30, 2021

General Guidance on Navigating OSU Vaccine Requirements

Please note that this general guidance is also applicable to the University of Akron’s parallel policy.

By Maurice Thompson, Esq.

In a recent announcement, Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson stated, “Ohio State will now require every student, faculty, and staff member to be vaccinated against Covid-19.”

However, to our knowledge, this “announcement” is yet to be reduced to official written policy promulgated by OSU’s Board of Trustees, as required by Ohio law.  Until that policy can be reviewed, the advice below remains general, preliminary, and tenuous:

  1. Students opposing the vaccination of course remain free to withdraw from the University, and maintain a compelling case for doing so, given the late date of the announcement.  Students (and parents, where applicable) should review their tuition agreement with the University.  In the absence of an agreement to submit, they maintain the opportunity to seek a refund.
  2. Students opposing the vaccination are eligible to seek medical, personal, or religious exemptions.  Students who have already contracted the infection are eligible for exemption.  The opportunity for a “personal” exemption suggests that students with philosophical objections part from religion may be accommodated. Applications for these exemptions should be taken very seriously.
  • The application should be more than one or two sentences.
  • The application should be specific and demonstrate sincerity.
  • The application should absolutely not attempt to cite potentially-applicable law.
  • Students should seek out and rely upon other such applications that have been successful in other contexts.
  • Students are invited to submit their applications for exemption for review by contacting the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law attorneys at [email protected]
  1. If an adequate attempt at an exemption is made and denied, students should immediately follow up through email by requesting the basis for denial.  Once provided, students should again immediately follow up by inquiring into whether there is an opportunity to appeal the decision, and if so, requesting an appeal and a hearing on the reasons for the denial.
  2. If the request for an appeal or hearing is denied, contact the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law at [email protected].

Please note that no student maintains a ripe legal claim until these steps have been property executed.  Note also that the University claim an intention to renew its masking and testing requirements for those who are provided exemptions.  These regulations, while unlikely to last longer than a single semester, are potentially subject to challenge.  However, that determination will be fact-dependent and can only be determined after completing the steps above.

Maurice Thompson, Esq.

Founder and Executive Director, 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.

Maurice ThompsonMaurice Thompson is a constitutional rights lawyer, author, commentator, speaker, and founder and director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. Maurice fights for liberty across Ohio in high-stakes constitutional rights cases and provides legal support for freedom-oriented ballot issues. He has defeated state and local governments and agencies to protect property rights, taxpayer rights, free speech, parental rights, entrepreneurs’ rights, privacy rights, freedom to contract, and healthcare freedom. Maurice specializes in the Ohio Constitution.