BLOOMINGTON — Dozens of people gathered at Indiana University in Bloomington on Thursday to rally for change to the school’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
"I feel like what IU is demanding and mandating is against our rights,” Kim Selm Johnson said, who has a daughter set to attend IU in the fall.
The university has mandated that all students and staff get the COVID-19 vaccine before school starts. Selm Johnson said she does not want her daughter to receive the vaccination.
“We don't trust it, just bottom line,” she said.
Many others at the rally also shared that concern.
"I'm here to stand up for my son and for all the kids that go to school here and around the country that are being forced to take this vaccine," said Jim Pauwels, who has a son that attends the university.
Chloe Krendle and Anastasia Kuntzlei drove to Bloomington from Van Wert, Ohio to show their support. Both will be freshmen at IU Fort Wayne in the fall.
"We think we should be able to have a choice on whether we want to get vaccinated or not,” Krendle said.
But not everyone is against the mandate. Ryan Hughes, who works nearby and lives in Bloomington, saw the crowd gathering and stopped by to hear what they had to say. He strongly disagreed with the message the group was sharing.
"They are here to claim their right to their own body and not have the vaccine but what they don't understand is that by not being vaccinated they are forcing sickness onto other people.," Hughes said. "So they are taking away other people's rights so they can selfishly have their own right not to be vaccinated."
The goal of the rally was to sway university leadership to retract the mandate. However, it does not seem like that will happen.
A spokesperson with Indiana University issued this statement to WRTV in regards to the demonstration:
"We are focused on moving forward with the vaccine requirement for the fall as a measure to keep our campuses safe. By having the vast majority of the IU community vaccinated, IU can confidently return to in-person classes, in-person events, and a more typical university experience."
Several people who want the mandate revoked said if it remains in place, they may be reevaluating their education plans for the upcoming semester.
"We would have to find a new college because we are not getting the vaccine," Pauwels said.
Since first announced, IU has amended the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Students and staff will no longer be required to provide documentation proving their vaccination status.
Several people at the rally said they still want to see the mandate retracted completely.