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Students gathered at the Montana State University campus to express concerns and disagreement over current mask requirements

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Bozeman, Montana – It’s a national issue, and it’s now raging on the Montana State University campus.

A small group of students and community people gathered about noon on Friday to criticize MSU’s current mask mandate.

“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,” the protester Luke Herzog said.

It didn’t take long for a group to gather around the protesters, with some even supporting the requirement.

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

“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? 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,” said Dylan Guthrie.

But, according to Herzog, it all depends on your priorities.

“I simply disagree that safety is better than freedom. 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,” Herzog said.

The protest prompted two significant responses from the university.

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

And masking appears to be effective.

“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,” said Ellig.

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

If the mask mandate is not removed, organizers said they will put pressure in other ways.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented three studies on Friday showing that COVID-19 infections were more common in regions where masks were not required in schools.

The studies show that wearing masks reduces the Covid-19 transmission.

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