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A cheerleader from the Indiana Hoosiers waves a flag with Indiana’s logo on the court against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Conference Tournament March 9, 2007 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois won 58-54 in overtime.

Protesters gathered at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington on Thursday to protest the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Demonstrators held the “Rally for Medical Freedom” during a meeting of the IU Board of Trustees, demanding the school completely drop the vaccine requirements.

“We’re here today to ask the Board of Trustees to do the right thing,” said Ann Dorris, president of the IU Family for Choice Not Mandates, one of the rally’s organizers.

“Do the right thing. Stop and rescind all of your mandates,” Dorris added. 

Stephanie Deemer, who has three children who will attend the school in the fall, said the issue is at heart “about the right to choose.”

“We respect the right to choose to get the vaccine. We want everyone else to respect our decision not to,” Deemer said.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has identified 488 public or private college campuses across the country that are requiring coronavirus vaccines for at least some students or employees ahead of the fall semester.

The vast majorities of these schools are in states that voted for President Biden in the 2020 presidential election, it says.

IU first announced on May 21 that it would require its students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated. Students who refused to get vaccinated would be barred from campus.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) later issued an advisory opinion saying that the school’s requirement for people to provide proof of immunization with a specific reporting system violated a GOP-led law that banned vaccine passports.

The university backtracked on its requirement to provide proof of vaccination amid the backlash but is still requiring students to get vaccinated.

Most of the speakers on Thursday expressed fears about the vaccine, while others compared the vaccine requirement to Nazi Germany.

Lucy Brenton, who was a libertarian candidate for Senate against Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), said she is concerned about her child, who is a senior, being unable to finish his degree at IU.

“Unless we have total bodily autonomy, unless you decide what goes into your body … doesn’t matter because it’s you. You’re the one that gets to decide your own body,” Brenton said.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus vaccine COVID-19 vaccine Joe Biden Mike Braun Todd Rokita Vaccination policy Vaccine hesitancy

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