Mandate - Photo by Ethan Watts

On Sept. 14, a group of BGSU students gathered outside the Bowen-Thompson Student Union to protest against the university’s recent COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the spring 2022 semester.

Approximately 15 students, for roughly two hours, gathered to voice their opinions. Some students want everyone to know that they are not against the vaccine itself.

“This is just a protest to get the university to see that we are unhappy with the mandate,” Connor Winke, a sophomore, said. “Rather, we feel that we should be able to choose if we would like to get vaccinated or not.”

The mandate was released on Sept. 2 for on-campus students, faculty and staff. By Nov. 29, everyone must submit proof of vaccination to the university, unless they receive a university-approved exemption for  religious, medical or personal reasons.

Others not protesting felt that the mandate was necessary.

“I think the mandate is most important,” Magnus Jakman, a student, said. “I understand your personal freedoms, but there are people, that if they get sick, they could die.”

Protestors advocated for the rights of students' privacy and personal choice. 

“We feel that students should be able to have free speech, free choice, to go against the mandate,” Emily Smith, the chair of recruitment for Young Americans for Freedom, said. “Their HIPAA rights, their protections for medical privacy should not be violated.”

According to the CDC, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was created to “protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.” Asking for proof of vaccination status does not violate HIPAA’s Privacy Rule regarding medical privacy.

Some protestors encouraged others to get vaccinated.

“I am out here to support our protest,” JT Ysseldyke, chapter president and campus coordinator for Turning Point USA, said. “I encourage people to get vaccinated. … It is very efficient. … I am personally vaccinated, that is one of the first things I did as soon as BGSU said you can get the vaccine.”

As of now, the university has not announced any changes to their original mandate plans. For those interested in getting vaccinated, you can visit Vaccines.gov, or schedule an appointment at the Falcon Health Center.

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