The Board of Higher Education is grappling with how to move forward with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates when it comes to some universities in North Dakota.
On Thursday, the board voted to support the idea of vaccine mandates. The mandate says all federal contractors and U.S. businesses with 100 or more workers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.
But they’re struggling with what they say is “ambiguous” language.
“There’s a lot of diversity in, you know, types of government contracts. What fits one college or university may not fit with another,” said Chair of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education Casey Ryan.
Ryan says the board recommends students should be vaccinated, however, only the students who work within the research divisions are mandated to be vaccinated.
This rule is applied to other employees or contractors who work closely with these research divisions.
“I think the long and short of it is, we respect what has been said,” Ryan said.
Another problem is how much money North Dakota will lose if they don’t comply with the mandate.
The University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University are the main research institutions in the state, which means they get the most money from the federal government.
“The problem with that is if you’re out of bounds, you can lose funding on government contracts,” Ryan said.
Now the board is leaving it up to the college presidents to enforce the Biden administration’s mandate as they see fit.
“We understand, as best we can, that we need to be in compliance in order to maintain the contracts we have and we also want to maintain the researchers behind those contracts. So, it’s important that we do it right and that’s what we’re working on,” Ryan said.
Earlier Friday, 10 states — including North Dakota — filed a lawsuit to stop these vaccine mandates on federal contractors, saying President Joe Biden’s September executive order violates the Procurement Act and the vaccine mandate is unconstitutional.