Education

Libertarian Students Fight Montana State Mask Mandate

Young Americans for Liberty students are protesting Montana State University’s indoor mask mandate, which President Waded Cruzado recently expanded to include indoor spaces beyond classrooms.

Dylan Dean, a student at Montana State and YAL state chair for Montana, collected more than 1,100 petition signatures two weeks ago to end the mask mandate on campus, according to a YAL press release. He said he tried to deliver the petition to Cruzado but was shut out from her office while campus police and the dean of students tried to stop him. After protesting the mask mandate on campus with a megaphone, he said, he received pushback from professors via email. “Honestly, I think you are a selfish idiot who cannot even consider the potential suffering you can cause others, particularly the immunocompromised and children too young to be immunized,” wrote one professor in a message obtained by Inside Higher Ed. “This is a serious disease.”

Dean added that the Montana State Faculty Senate voted for a vaccine mandate without putting it on the public agenda, so students never even knew about it until after the vote was over.

Cruzado expanded the mask mandate on Sept. 17, after Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital’s critical care unit reached 100 percent capacity, she wrote in an email to the campus.

Dean is taking the fall semester off because of the university’s COVID-19 restrictions and burnout from last semester’s online classes, he wrote in an email. He said he will return to MSU as a student for the upcoming spring semester. YAL at MSU will continue to pressure the administration to respond to the petition, he said, which they believe is the largest in MSU history.

At Virginia Tech and Rutgers University, YAL students are protesting against vaccine mandates — but not mask mandates — arguing the organization “is not anti-vaccine, but rather anti-vaccine mandate.” The organization states it’s also working with legislators in its Hazlitt Coalition and has filed 25 bills defending American citizens’ rights against COVID-19 safety protocols.

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