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BGSU students gather to protest university's COVID-19 vaccination mandate

Students say they want to make sure it's known they are not "anti-vax."

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — BGSU students gathered together to protest the university's mask mandate.

"We specifically want to protect medical privacy and people's rights to free speech," said graduate student and organizer of the protest Emily Smith.

She adds the current mandate requiring students to get a vaccine and submit their vaccination status to the school or get a weekly COVID-19 test and submit their results to the university is a violation of medical privacy.

"So what I would kind of like to see if the university say if you want to get the vaccine that's fine you don't have to tell us about it and if you don't want to get the vaccine, that's fine too," Smith said.

Other BGSU students say they want to see the school make a change as well.

"Us protesting is basically our goal out here so just drop the mandate nothing else you can choose to have the vaccine on your own personal choice and stance but we ask we get that choice and it not be made for us," said BGSU senior Adrik Weinsier-Marcano.

BGSU senior Jared Ysseldyke said it's important to note the university doesn't require any other vaccines, which according to BGSU's website is accurate.

"This is the first vaccine they are mandating so we just want to say its kind of uncool for them to do that they don't mandate everything else but they're mandating this that's a fairly new vaccine," said Ysseldyke.

Following the students' protest, BGSU's deputy chief of staff and university spokesperson Alex Solis shared a statement with WTOL 11:

“Bowling Green State University recently implemented COVID-19 vaccination and exemption plans for students, faculty and staff. While we recognize that FDA-approved vaccines are an effective tool to fighting COVID-19, and we strongly encourage all those who are able to get vaccinated, we also appreciate the freedoms which allow those to voice their opinions at today’s protest. We confronted any uncertainty at the onset of this process by establishing exemptions that accommodate medical, religious or reasons of personal conscience. We strived to offer a balanced and appropriate approach that addresses the concerns raised today. However, we absolutely believe higher education is an essential part of our society, and we will continue to focus on vaccine education and access and ensuring that BGSU is committed to offering a high-quality education for our students and to the public health of our community.”