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Montclair State’s Surprising Discriminatory Policy For Religious Students

by Ekaterina Zelenin

In the interests of protecting costs and, allegedly, its vaccinated students, Montclair State University has established some discriminatory policies.

Let’s not beat around the bush and pretend like I did not previously write in support of vaccinations. But let me be clear, I am not an advocate for forcing the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine and its boosters.

As a pro-life Christian adult, I should have the right to refuse a vaccine developed from aborted fetus cells HEK-293 and PER.C6 that were used to create cell lines, as documented by Health.ND.Gov.

As students are well aware, Montclair State’s vaccine policy is pretty rigid and one might say positively militant when it comes to all vaccinations; as it should be.

Though I do generally endorse vaccine regulations, I do not agree with forcing or establishing discriminatory policies on individuals that are reluctant or defiant against them.

However, my main issue is not regarding the push for the COVID-19 vaccine, though that poses its own set of issues. My main problem with Montclair State is the university has now made a clear preference toward medical exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccines over religious exemptions, which it equally allows.

Montclair State’s policy states while unvaccinated students who are medically exempt can still reside in dorms, those who are religiously exempt cannot.

Alongside this policy, Montclair State also poses limitations on the religiously exempt students’ participation in extracurricular activities stating, “students with approved religious exemptions will have limitations regarding their participation in high-contact activities, such as intercollegiate athletics, club sports, performing arts, clinical placements, or externships.”

I understand that the policies are enacted to protect other students, but medically exempt students are still liable to infect others as much as religiously exempt students are. As an unvaccinated student, I would have fewer issues with the new policy if all unvaccinated students were not allowed to participate in sports or live on campus.

But the fact that the university has made a distinction and does not offer housing or sports to religiously exempt students like those who are medically exempt, comes across as though the policymakers at Montclair State have a clear preference for the medical exemption.

If the school is concerned about the spread of COVID-19, then there should not have been a distinction between the reasons for being unvaccinated, but rather whether one is vaccinated or not.

So I ask the university, why did you choose to limit access to those who are religiously exempt but not to those who are medically? Are our religious beliefs less important than our physical health? And what happens to students who were out of state with religious exemptions and are now forced to transfer and potentially lose a lot of their credits? Will they be compensated?

I would love to hear back from our school administration. But for now, I will simply sit back and appreciate the fact that I am a commuter and do not have to face the fact that refusing the COVID-19 vaccine can result in me losing my academic privilege.


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