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MSU students, community engage in protest over mask mandate

Posted at 5:10 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-25 11:51:04-04

BOZEMAN — It’s a huge debate all over the country, and now it’s here on Montana State University’s campus.

Around noon Friday, a couple of dozen students and community members gathered to hold a protest against the current mask mandate at MSU.

"I feel that each student has the liberty to make a choice, the liberty to make a choice about their own health and what they feel is best for them, and they shouldn’t be forced to do anything concerning their health,” said Luke Herzog, who's against the mandate.

“Being on this campus is not a God-given right," said one student who supports the mandate. "It is an opportunity that we were all given. It is a privilege. If you want to keep the privilege then wear a mask.”

It didn’t take long for a crowd to form around the protest, with some even stepping out in favor of the mandate.

“Being on this campus is not a God-given right," said one student who supports the mandate. "It is an opportunity that we were all given. It is a privilege. If you want to keep the privilege then wear a mask.”

“At a certain point, I was kind of like ‘oh I don’t want to wear a mask. I’m vaccinated. What’s the point?" said Dylan Guthrie. "But now when you see the spiking rates of COVID especially with hospitals being filled right now I think by not wearing a mask you’re just undermining everyone else’s well-being just for your own selfish interest.”

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Around noon Friday, a couple of dozen students and community members gathered to hold a protest against the current mask mandate at MSU.

But it depends on what you prioritize, according to Herzog.

“I simply disagree that safety is better than freedom," he said. "I believe Benjamin Franklin said that someone who is willing to sacrifice their freedom for a little bit of safety deserves neither, and I would agree fully that our freedom to make these decisions for us is better than the safety.”

The university had two major responses to the protest.

“I’m very proud of everybody who participated in that protest today because it was civil," said Tracy Ellig, MSU Vice President of Communications. "There was back and forth. It was a good example of civil discussion when we have two, different points of view.”

And masking seems to be working.

“Since we implemented the mask requirement, we’ve been seeing our numbers of students, who live on campus who end up with COVID has been declining,” Ellig said.

On September 15th, two days before the mandate, there were 20 COVID positive students living on campus, and as of last Thursday night, there were 8 COVID positive students living on campus.

Organizers say if the mask mandate isn’t repealed, they will be applying pressure in other ways.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released three studies that show that COVID-19 infections were more pervasive in areas that did not require masks in schools.

The studies provide further evidence that the CDC's recommendation that teachers, staff and students wear masks when in school significantly lessen the spread of COVID-19.

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