A University of Minnesota Duluth student has filed suit challenging the university system's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all students.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, seeks an order halting the university's requirement that students at its five campuses be vaccinated by Oct. 8. The university, Board of Regents and University President Joan Gabel are named in the suit.

"The University of Minnesota may not unilaterally require new immunizations," attorney Sam Diehl, who is representing the student, said in an e-mail. "President Gabel's unlawful attempt to mandate student COVID-19 vaccination violates Minnesota law and must be enjoined."

"The university is not above the law," Diehl said. "While there are many opinions about the benefits and risks of COVID vaccines, we can all agree that the university and its president must obey the law. We look forward to our day in court."

The university allows students to opt out of the COVID-19 vaccine for medical or religious reasons.

Minnesota's College Immunization Law requires students to be immunized against most major childhood diseases before attending the university, while also allowing specific exemptions.

University spokesman Jake Ricker said in an e-mail that U leaders haven't been served with the suit and therefore have not had a chance to review the details.

"That said, we are confident in the operational decisions we made regarding vaccinations for our community," Ricker said. "Our actions reflect the high priority we place on creating the safest, healthiest possible campus environment for our students, faculty and staff."

More than 500 colleges and universities have imposed vaccine requirements and many have been challenged in court, sometimes for denying student requests for a religious exemption.

CrossCastle, the law firm representing the student, says on its website that it specializes in First Amendment and public advocacy litigation, commercial litigation, government enforcement defense and investigations, and employment law.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465