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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Divisions in student population on full display at COVID-19 protest

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Photo by Photo by Melanie McBride

On Monday, Nov. 1 students gathered in Rudder Plaza at 5 p.m. to protest Texas A&M’s COVID-19 policies and guidelines. 

Protesters and counter protesters once again gathered on campus this week to voice their concerns over Texas A&M’s response to COVID-19. 
On Monday, Nov. 1 a group of around 20 students gathered in Rudder Plaza to protest Texas A&M’s lack of COVID-19 safety protocols. The protesters were made up of students from several organizations including Feminism 4 Aggies, Covid Campus Coalition and Young Democratic Socialists of America. Counter protesters from Novos Order Logos and Texas Action also gathered to participate in counter chants. 
The head organizer of the protest and wildlife, fisheries and science junior Neo Koite said the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. 
“We are just demanding that we have options for the safety of students, faculty and staff,” Koite said. “Such as online and hybrid options and things like possible future mandatory testing.”
Koite said students are also concerned with students living on campus who may contract COVID-19 or be exposed while living in the dorms.
“Currently students who live in dorms have to elect two people to bring them food and laundry,” Koite said. “We want to shift that to where the university will provide them to people.”
Anthropology junior Ellis Howard said the majority of their COVID-19 demands have not been addressed.
“Nothing has concretely been done in regards to our demands and nothing has been met except for allowing professors to see who has COVID[-19] in their classrooms,” Howard said. 
Howard said she is concerned about the health of the student body without the proper precautions being taken. 
“The university right now is not protecting their students,” Howard said. “We have really horrible COVID-19 policies … and we really have no incentives for wearing masks or getting vaccinated.”
Construction science junior Sebastian Castro attended as a counter protester with the organization Texas Action. Castro said he believes masks are harmful to the student population. 
“We oppose the totalitarian restrictions on our ability to breathe normal air,” Castro said.
Castro said Texas A&M should not meet the protesters’ demands.
“The opposite of [the protesters’] goals is what Texas A&M should be striving for,” Castro said.
Political science freshman Carson Wolf said he believes the protesters were bullies.
“This kind of tactic is bullying at the end of the day,” Wolf said. “The political message of this is it sets a bad precedent [and] basically normalizes the implementation of mask mandates which you can apply to children, and children shouldn’t be forced to mask.”
Wolf said he believes mask mandates hurt children’s development. 
“Kids already have huge psychological effects from being locked down, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent against,” Wolf said. 
Passing by as the protest was occurring, general studies freshman Avery Flores walked up to watch the two groups of protestors. Flores said the divisions that COVID-19 has created between students is tragic. 
“I came here because I knew about what the Aggie family was supposed to be, I wanted to be a part of this community,” Flores said. “Obviously there is always going to be some sort of divide … that’s fine but I don’t think I’ve ever seen people forget that Aggies don’t hurt Aggies ignored so much until this pandemic.”
Communication freshman Macy, who declined to give her last name, also shared a similar sentiment with the tension on campus regarding COVID-19 policies.
“I came to my first Aggie football game here when I was about in elementary school and I remember just that spirit, just that community, I felt like I belonged,” Macy said. “That home, that family, it’s not here right now because of what’s been going on, and it’s really disappointing and is something that should be addressed.”

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