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BYU Vaccine Mandate Protest

January 30, 2022

Saturday, Dec. 22, BYU students and others gathered on the street corners of 900 East and Birch Lane in Provo to protest the BYU vaccine mandate. There were opinions of all ranges, but the common theme was that everyone desired liberty in their own decision on getting vaccinated. The vaccine mandate installed introduces a new policy for BYU students and attendees of BYU events. BYU will now require proof of vaccination or a negative test at all indoor, public events with more than 100 attendees. This change was implemented on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. The protest started at 11a.m. and lasted for several hours. Over 100 people were in attendance and cars honked their horn in agreement as they drove by. Signs with slogans such as “Freedom to not get vaccinated were displayed” along with others. Raul Hevia, one of the organizers of the protest, stood for hours on the microphone speaking to the crowd. When interviewed, he stated that the organizers were “pro-choice, if you want to get the vax, that’s up to you. We are not against it.” He then further added that “we are against all compulsory things that the government and any institutions do.”

BYU students gather at the protest

Raul was an organizer of the protest and connected with People’s Rights. People’s Rights is an organization that was founded on freedom from government overreach and bases its values on protecting family, faith, and the future. The majority of students at the protest that were involved had heard it from various Instagram pages and social media, such as BYU Conservatives and BYU Turning Point. One of those students was Tanner Reeve. He had some strong words to say about the mandate at the university: “I am here at the protest; I was offered a role and credits to be in Fiddler on the Roof at BYU. And then I was kicked out for not being vaccinated after being offered a part in the show. They kicked me out for the sole purpose of being a threat to the health and safety of the cast” (Tanner Reeve, BYU Student).

Tanner with his girlfriend at the protest

He then explained further confirming that he had already had COVID-19 recently before the show was put on. He added that they almost “cancelled the show, because over half of the cast tested positive for COVID-19 while being 100% vaccinated.” In a social media post before this interview and immediately after he was expelled from the program after already being offered BYU credits and a role, he spoke at length:

Tanner's post on Facebook (he was required to have a beard for the performance)

Although Tanner’s scenario was a result of the BYU’s music school vaccine mandate, other classes under BYU’s general mandate exceed the 100 indoor person rule and students can fall to the same type of discrimination faced by him. Tanner’s concerns and among others are related to their health risk of taking the vaccine versus contracting COVID-19, even if it may be the second or third time they are infected. Good data shows that natural immunity offers more protection against COVID-19 according to studies from the CDC. As well, the Omicron variant of the virus is extremely mild in terms of hospitalization and death according to the CDC and evades the vaccination. The vaccine has been linked to multiple side effects, although there are small chances of them occurring. The question on the minds of college students like Tanner may be that even though the chance of getting direly sick from COVID-19 a second time is very low, does he want to voluntarily expose himself to a possible side effect even when a vaccine will not improve the strength of his immunity whatsoever? The policy will be in place until further notice. Jan. 30, 2022 Thomas Stevenson

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