My son is 20 so he is now responsible for writing his own letters as he is of age. The first letter he sent was the usual exemption letter based on religious beliefs. He received a letter back from the school asking for three things: Explain in his own words why he is requesting religious exemption, describe his religious principles and indicate whether he is opposed to all vaccinations.
I am attaching letter he is sending back and would love feedback from anyone who has difficulty in New York State on the college level and also feedback about anything else that should be in the letter. Apparently, things are getting a lot tougher and you cannot just say you don't want vaccinations for religious beliefs alone.
See letter below. Thank you for any info you can give.
~~By the time I was born both my mother and father were devout Buddhists. At the time of my birth they had both made a conscious decision not to vaccinate as it went against their beliefs. I grew up believing that we are all connected to the universe and that hurting animals and all creatures was wrong and violated my beliefs. The doctrines of Buddhism have become deeply engrained in my sense of self and my outlook on life. I depend on Buddhism for my emotional, physical and psychological as well as spiritual health. My parents have allowed me to discover my own path and I feel that the path of Buddhism is my true path and what I believe. Through much self-analysis and devotion, I began to fully understand the sacredness of my own body and the importance of respecting my body as a temple. I cannot put vaccinations into my body as it would go against everything I believe to be sacred and true. I believe that my body is a gift and putting foreign substances into my body would be a violation to the universe and to myself. Buddha taught that we as humans don’t get to change reality. We are part of reality and all reality (and life) is connected and in balance. To attempt to change what is already perfect, goes against my beliefs as a Buddhist. To accept vaccinations into my body would mean that I do not agree with the basic teaching of Buddha. One of the central teachings of Buddhism is the “Four Noble Truths.” The first is that there is suffering (dukkha) in life. The second is that suffering is caused by attachment, ignorance, and aversion. The third is that the cessation of suffering is possible. The fourth is that the path to the cessation of suffering is “The Eightfold Path”—a gradual path of self-improvement. The Eightfold Path includes Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. It is my understanding and thought that my body is a temple and to treat it any other way would be detrimental to my soul and life hereafter. I am opposed to all vaccinations due to all of the above.
I'm not an expert on New York law, but I liked this letter. The only thing I would think about changing is the term "foreign substances." I would simply change that to "vaccines." You don't want them to be able to ask, "So are you against ALL foreign substances?" Have you ever taken any medication at all?"
The explanation the school asked for is standard for New York. Nothing so far has set off any alarms for me.
They make the process hardest for exemption but just keepmtrying and the resistance will slow. SUNY will constantly dog your son about it though sonbe wary around registration and have everything saved updated and in order as they will make each semester a challenge.