Leaders and members of the Kansas State College Republicans gathered in City Park’s Poyntz Shelter Monday evening to discuss their disappointment in the university’s campus mask mandate.
Jonathan Smith, president of the K-State College Republicans and senior in sociology, started the “Rally For Freedom” by speaking to the gathered crowd about the importance of voicing their opinions on the mandate.
“It’s not the role of local government, of the governor, of K-State or any university to mandate these masks or mandate vaccines,” Smith said. “It’s the role of the individual. Here in America, we believe in the power of the individual, and it should be that individual who chooses.”
Aside from leading the Monday evening event, Smith brought his concerns to change.org, setting up a petition for the university to remove the mask mandate. Over 500 people have signed the petition so far.
Mackenzie Haddix, Kansas Federation of College Republicans chairwoman and National Secretary for the College Republican National Committee, spoke to the crowd about concerns brought on by the mandates and guidelines for unvaccinated students.
“Now [universities] are giving out scholarships to anybody who gets vaccinated,” Haddix said. “Here we have all these conservative students who are super smart and have worked super hard, and now they are basically being told, ‘Sorry, all these other kids that are getting vaccines are going to get scholarships above you.'”
The rally featured leaders from across the state. Haddix traveled from Emporia State University to speak, and Britton Murry, the University of Kansas College Republicans vice chairman and executive director of Kansas Federation of College Republicans state board, traveled from Lawrence.
“The same problem is happening at KU and other Kansas universities,” Murray said. “Getting vaccinated and wearing masks are important choices to make, but it should be the choice of the individuals.”
Members of the College Republican National Committee and representatives for Kansas Republican campaigns promoted open positions and how to get involved in the campaigns.
Noah Enders, senior in political science, works on Derek Schmidt’s campaign for state governor, and Michael Jacobson, freshman in business administration, works on Michael Austin’s campaign for state treasurer.
“Michael is the only conservative candidate in the race. He is running on a campaign of financial freedom and limited government,” Jacobson said.
Haddix prefaced that the College Republican National Committee does not endorse anyone until after the primaries — every statewide candidate was invited to the rally.
To promote vaccinations, K-State and other Kansas schools like Pittsburg State offer incentive programs to vaccinated students. K-State will hold weekly prize drawings every Friday until Oct. 8.