INDIANAPOLIS — Facing criticism from Republican state legislators, Indiana University has scaled back its COVID-19 vaccine mandate to students and staff.

IU is still requiring vaccinations for students and employees but is no longer requiring documentation of it.

Nineteen Republican representatives signed a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb urging him to stop IU from mandating its students to get the vaccine before fall semester. Last week, 35 Republican senators also signed a letter to IU’s president urging him to rescind the vaccine policy.

“We are specifically reaching out to you today and asking you to reconsider and rescind this mandate requiring a vaccine that does not have full FDA approval. As an alternative, we invite you to consider the multiple collaborative examples set forth by other universities across the great state of Indiana,” the senators’ letter said.

Holcomb has said he is not going to stop the requirement. But after the backlash, IU is looking into the verifying process, which originally required students to show their vaccine cards.

The Indiana Democratic Party believes the Republican Party is using IU for “partisan benefit.”

“This civil war skirmish has more implications because it reveals once again how the Indiana Republican Party finds Gov. Eric Holcomb as an obstacle to their dangerous objectives, all of which are meant to appease the former U.S. president,” the Indiana Democratic Party said in a statement referencing former U.S. president Donald Trump.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many universities felt financial and admissions repercussions after sending students home to learn online and in some cases reimbursing room and board. State universities get funding for buildings and other instructional needs from the state, which is decided by lawmakers when creating the state budget.

Here are state universities’ plans for fall semester:

Indiana University

Indiana University

IU’s vaccine mandate covers its Bloomington, IUPUI, South Bend, Northwest, Kokomo, East and Southeast locations.

“Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine among our students, faculty and staff continues to extend the university’s comprehensive and thoughtful approach to managing and mitigating the pandemic on our campuses and brings us one step closer to making a ‘return to normal’ a reality,” IU President Michael McRobbie said in a statement.

There are exemptions for those with medical and religious reasons.

Purdue logo

Purdue University

Purdue University is highly encouraging but not requiring its students to be vaccinated. Students who are vaccinated by July 15 will be entered to win a year’s worth of tuition. Ten students will be selected by July 29.

“We have strongly encouraged everyone in our campus community to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Dr. Esteban Ramirez, chief medical officer of the Protect Purdue Health Center, in a statement. “The more people who choose to get vaccinated and register their status, the more decisions we can make and the more normal our operations can be in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

Indiana State University

Indiana State University

ISU has not yet announced its plans for fall semester. It is not requiring those who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask on campus.

“Indiana State University has not determined whether to mandate vaccines for students and employees. We continue to strongly encourage individuals to follow CDC guidelines, including getting vaccinated,” ISU said in a statement to TheStatehouseFile.com.

Ivy Tech

Ivy Tech

Ivy Tech plans to continue face masks for everyone, reporting positive cases and social distancing.

“Ivy Tech is not requiring the vaccine for students, faculty and staff. We encourage all who are able to get the vaccine to do so when it becomes available to them,” it states on its website.

Ball State University

Ball State University

BSU has not announced its plans for fall semester.

“We are developing plans to incentivize all faculty, staff and students to be vaccinated before the beginning of the fall 2021 semester,” BSU President Geoffrey Mearns said in a statement.

University of Southern Indiana

University of Southern Indiana

USI is not requiring its students to be vaccinated but is highly encouraging it.

“The more people who are vaccinated, the greater our chance of returning to a more normal semester this fall,” USI President Ronald Rochon said in a statement. “Vaccinations will be key to our ability to return to in-person classes, events, campus housing and community involvement.”

Vincennes University

Vincennes University

Vincennes University is not requiring students to be vaccinated but is encouraging it. Those who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear a mask on campus anymore.

“If you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you are able to,” VU President Chuck Johnson said in a statement.

Alexa Shrake is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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