Reminder: This bulletin is for informational and educational purposes only. As always, please ensure that you are following  the guidance and recommendations of your national organization first and foremost. 

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Since February 2020, we have been regularly communicating with our clients and partners about COVID-19 and its impacts on our clients' members, volunteers, and employees. We have developed and shared many resources during that time. Obviously, the global pandemic continues to effect all of us in numerous ways, but we wanted remind you of the numerous resources that we have available at our website.

Webinar: Answering Your COVID-19 Vaccine & Employment Questions

Michelle Anderson of Fisher & Phillips has graciously agreed to join us again for another webinar addressing your employment and vaccine related questions. 

Date: January 26, 2020
Time: 2PM ET
Register here
As many campuses re-open for the spring semester, we have developed a list of things we have learned from the Fall of 2020. Click here for further information.

Your Vaccine FAQs

Important reminder: As always, check with your national organization regarding any and all COVID-19 risk management advice before proceeding.

We have recently written up our position on the ability of employers to require their employees to take the vaccine. We are also beginning to get questions about whether the sororities/fraternities will be allowed to also require their members to be vaccinated.

In December, we took the opportunity to discuss this matter with three university administrators from a public institution and one administrator from a private university, along with extensive research on this developing subject, to get a feel as to what the university community was considering on this subject of requiring its students to be vaccinated before they can continue to be on campus.

What follows are some questions and responses that we posed:

By what authority do institutions of higher education (IHEs) currently hold the power to require the vaccinations that pre-COVID were already in place?

This authority comes from each state’s Department of Health: a public institution generally follows the guidance, whereas a private institution is able to require more vaccinations than what the Department of Health addresses. There also exists a statute that allows governmental entities such as a university to engage in “all acts necessary” to preserve the health and safety of its students and employees dating back to the early 1900s.

Currently do IHEs allow for exceptions to their vaccination policy and, if so, what are they?

Yes, each administrator responded that exceptions are allowed. They are 1) for health reasons in which an individual has reason to believe it could put their health at risk and 2) for religious beliefs that are inconsistent with taking vaccines. We did hear that very few of their students seek exceptions. According to Peter H. Meyers, an emeritus professor at the George Washington University law school and previously served as director of the law school’s Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic, 95 to 99 percent of students will not fit into the narrow categories of exemptions that are allowed.

Do you anticipate offering additional exceptions for the COVID-10 vaccinations to your faculty and staff ?

One administrator acknowledged that they anticipate allowing the faculty and staff an exemption based on what is being referred to as “philosophical disagreements” against the vaccines, which will probably not be offered to students. Another university stated that they would just consider that type of exception as a medical reservation instead of a separate item.

What do you anticipate your university will be doing this spring on requiring students be vaccinated?

It is unlikely that they will mandate vaccinations especially since drug is only being offered under an “emergency use” category and the student population won’t have access to the vaccine for some time. They do sense that the university will encourage the vaccines but not require them down the road, short of any governmental direction to the contrary.

What impediments will there be to ultimately be to actually require the vaccination of all students/faculty and administration?

The current status of the vaccination application is termed “emergency use.” In ordinary circumstances, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will then move the drugs to what is termed “standard approval,” and the masses would then be eligible to take the vaccination. There is some pretty strong concern that because of the fact that the drugs haven’t gone through the normal three-year trial period that the FDA may not any time soon declare the drug for “standard approval,” which will certainly slow the acceptance of the vaccination.

How have the IHEs handled the flu vaccination previously?

What seemed to be the consensus is that many of both the private and public institutions did in fact require flu vaccinations last fall of both students and administration/faculty with very high acceptance rates. There is doubt however that this will play out the same way with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Students won’t necessarily be considered for vaccinations until late spring/early summer timeframe, so should we consider the vaccination matter at a later point in time?

Unless the student has underlying health issues, this is likely the case.  We have read that the American College Heath Association (ACHA) has requested that the CDC Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) consider recommending students be vaccinated prior to the end of spring semester 2021. This addresses the students returning home and/or moving elsewhere and exposing other communities at large.

There is no question that the sororities will need to once again be familiar with what each IHE is doing as they develop their guidance for each chapter. As noted above, we may see differences develop between private and public IHEs, along with local conditions regarding the spread of the virus. Any discussion is premature until the vaccine becomes more readily available to the age grouping of college students.

We have also had some fraternal related questions that we would also like to address:

If a university requires the COVID-19 vaccination and requires proof of the inoculation, can the sorority and potentially the house corporation rely on that or should we also secure a proof?

We believe that you can rely on the university managing this risk accordingly.

What if the university choses to not require the vaccination, but we determine that it is in the best interests of the health and safety of our members to do so?

As a private organization, you will be at liberty to make these determinations. Will it become a condition of membership for the member to consider? It will be recommended that you also explore what exceptions you can offer, not unlike those that employers are obligated to offer, such as: 1) health reasons as the vaccine may pose a threat to the individual and 2) religious reasons. There does also appear that one other possible exception is being considered which is based on philosophical disagreements, but not necessarily encouraging you to incorporate. We are already hearing reservations on social media, which do not appear to have any scientific standing.

As with all things COVID, things will develop and evolve on this subject and we can hope that the IHEs make the calls that will help our clients better manage this exposure. As there are new developments, we will provide you with updates accordingly. We are also working with Michelle Anderson of isher & Phillips on some possible “templates” that may be used on this subject so look for additional information.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your Client Executive with any further questions or concerns.

What Employers Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

As employers, we are all entering new territory with respect to COVID-19 vaccinations. Now with the initial availability of the vaccinations, we have begun our analysis of the matter of how employers are to handle this matter, be it at the headquarters level or at the house corporation/chapter level, as an employer of chapter related employees. Undoubtedly also on your mind is the question of whether you can compel your employees to be inoculated against the novel coronavirus.
The EEOC COVID-19 website will provide some initial questions and answers to those areas of risk for your organization as an employer. As a private business, from a legal perspective, there is little preventing you from imposing a vaccination requirement on your employees. You will need to balance that against  operational risks associated with a mandatory program.Generally, an employer can implement a mandatory vaccination program. This ability by the employer, however, is subject to reasonable accommodation obligations under federal, state, and local laws for those with disabilities who request a medical accommodation or those who have a bonafide religious belief against vaccinations. You do have greater latitude to consider when managing this exposure, but there still remains some regulatory and legislative boundaries that you need to review whether it be EEOC and/or OSHA on this subject. The two notable exceptions to this mandate would be where an employee can attest to having a medical condition that could cause a real danger of serious illness or death in the event of inoculation and if the employee maintains privately held religious beliefs that are inconsistent with taking vaccines. Unlike prior vaccinations, there is emerging another possible exception which is being commonly referred to as a “philosophical disagreement,” due to the emerging questions that surround this particular vaccine.
Setting aside the question of legality, each business will carefully need to consider all aspects of this matter and calculate all of the inherent risks. Until the vaccinations are universally available, an employer has to carefully consider this, and then once it has become universally available, a new and different approach may be determined. For its part, the EEOC advises that best practice is to encourage employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccines on a voluntary basis, rather than mandate it. That being said, each employer must do what it believes is best for its operation. As a sorority headquarters and also sorority chapter house operations, you need to consider not only the health and safety of the employees operating on your property but also the resident collegiate members. Both the EEOC and the Center for Disease Control have acknowledged the inherent risk of having a COVID-19 infected person in the workplace posing a significant risk of substantial harm to others.
One last note, the current vaccine as qualified as “emergency use” currently, thus a mandatory program can only be considered when the vaccine becomes what is termed as “standard approval” where everyone has access to the vaccination.
It is believed that because two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and are currently in distribution, both the state and  federal authorities will issue more guidance and/or legislation around employer mandatory programs. Employers should begin to evaluate their specific workplace situation and determine what is the correct course of action for them by considering the following:
  •  Employers should ask if a mandatory vaccination program is necessary their industry, workforce or workplace facilities such as chapter houses? 
  • If the employer deems a mandatory vaccination program necessary, is it organization-wide or are there restrictions based on being a remote worker, exposure to chapter members across the country etc.
  • If a mandatory program is implemented, employers should evaluate their accommodation (exception) processes to be able to quickly react to all requests that may arise by employees.
 Whatever the case may be, it is recommended that, as an employer, you provide proper education relating to COVID-19 protocol, vaccinations, in general, and the rights of employees to refuse a vaccine. All the while, continuing to practice safe exposure control to prevent the spread of the virus, remove barriers which might pressure reporting to work when sick and make it easy for employees to receive inoculations to fend off COVID-19, even if not mandated.
Employees should have one individual or department who is responsible and accountable for compliance around a mandatory vaccine program and its processes. This is especially critical if the employment at the chapter houses is managed locally. This is a complex issue to effectively navigate and the local management may not be as familiar with all of the inherent risks of this matter.
Given the fast-evolving nature of the question, it is crucial for employers to monitor new laws and guidance from federal and state authorities so it can plan accordingly once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes generally available in the US. Employers should weigh the legal exposure and other risks associated with any mandatory vaccination program, and assess whether the alternative of voluntary vaccination may be a better option based on the nature and needs of your business.
We are hosting a webinar as noted above with Michelle Anderson, from Fisher & Phillips LLP, an employment law attorney to further address this risk and to answer your specific questions. Register here.
The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) with the support of MJ Sorority has launched a public health promotion campaign to help College Panhellenics and their members lead the way on campus in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The messages focus on the dangers of COVID-19 to young adults, the problem of shared air and how to take action to stop the droplets that transmit the virus. NPC will share these messages about how to #StopTheDrops - along with a video, discussion guide, gathering guide and other tools - on social media over several weeks as students return to campus. While the campaign is geared toward college students, the messages are widely applicable. To watch the video and access the educational resources, visit

Planning Safer Events During COVID-19

We hope this will help you plan safer events in the weeks and months ahead.

Before we dig into the logistics of event planning during a global pandemic, I am reminded of a saying often repeated in our home growing up that used to cause intense eye-rolling from my sister and me: “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” As we contemplate what types of events to hold in the coming school year, that axiom might be a good one to keep in the forefront of our minds at the beginning of the planning process, asking ourselves: 
  1. Can we meet? and 
  2. Should we meet?
Before resuming in-person experiences, event planners will need to thoughtfully consider safety and security risks for their event. Many factors can influence an event’s risk profile, including the location of the venue, the purpose of the event, and the number of people attending. Today, we want to provide you with resources to consider as you address the threat of COVID-19 and manage the risk of transmission. Following the expertise of health officials and regulators, events will need to adopt new policies and procedures to minimize physical contact and maximize the health and well-being of their attendees. Our Planning Safer Events During COVID-19 resource assumes there are no mandatory prohibitions affecting your event or gathering.
Click here to download MJ Sorority's Guide to Planning Safer Events During COVID-19

Revised Important Terms for Housing Agreements

For years now, we have engaged a law firm to develop and review this resource that serves as a checklist for your Housing Agreements. In light of issues arising out of COVID-19, we are recommending some additional verbiage in the 2020 version of this resource

Contact us with any questions, as always!

COVID-19 Response

We have created a page on our website for our resources and FAQs related to COVID-19. This situation is very fluid and changing hour-by-hour, so be sure to bookmark this page and continue to refer to it for additional information as we have it.
COVID-19 Response at

Additional Resources

Bookmark the MJ Insurance COVID-19 response page for many additional legislative updates, webinars, and more. 
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This Risk Management Bulletin is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for appropriate  legal advice.

Copyright © 2021 MJ Sorority, All rights reserved.

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