Students rally against COVID-19 mandates at State Capitol

Local News

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Students came together today at the Capitol to protest against COVID-19 mandates at universities.

Organizers say the rally is to protect medical freedom and featured students from Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University and Oakland University.

According to organizers, the rally’s goal was to connect concerned students with state leaders and activist groups, including Michigan Students Take Charge, Stand Up Michigan and Guardians of Freedom Michigan.

“The students that I’m here with today believe that medical freedom, not just with vaccines, with any medical processes. It’s important that the individual makes that decision themselves,” said PJ Sarotte of Michigan Students Take Charge.      

Those attending say vaccination requirements are a step too far.

“I actually have a sibling, a sister that goes to Michigan State. When we heard about all the stuff they were doing, we were not very happy about it. So we are out here to try to get rid of those and hopefully, we’ll be successful in doing that,” said Preston Runyon, a high school student.

Along with MSU’s vaccine requirement for all students, staff and faculty; the student from Novi was also protesting mask policies in school.

“I’m very young, pretty healthy so I don’t think I need to be wearing a mask at all times,” he said.

He said he would like to see school boards overturn similar policies as well as see students take an active role in decision making. Speaker PJ Sarotte agrees and said that university officials failed to protect what he calls medical freedom.

“I’m aiming for, you know, a better plan for how students and staff and faculty member can, you know, all be on campus, be at the university, without forcing them to make a medical decision that’s rushed or not planned out,” he said.

Some schools are budging when it comes to mandates. Recently, Western Michigan University student athletes reached a settlement with the school which had a vaccination requirement for athletes. Students are able to play but will have to go through regular testing and wear a mask when appropriate. Sarotte said its a win for medical freedom.

 “we will be talking about the victories students have had. I think this is a victory here, just having the amount of people here and the amount of supporters we have here right now, that’s enough for me”, said the founder of Michigan Students Take Charge.

This comes a day after the state health department issued a mask recommendation for indoor gatherings as daily case counts near 9,000. During a press conference Friday, health officials said a majority of new cases were from people that are unvaccinated.

“COVID-19 is present and spreading in our communities. and our hospitals are once again stretched thin,” said Elizabeth Hertel, director of Michigan department of health & human services.

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