Sunday protest at KU hopes to push for vaccine mandate on campus

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Some University of Kansas students are protesting this weekend. They want to see stricter COVID-19 regulations and mandatory vaccination for students and faculty.

The school did put a mask requirement in place last month, but some say it’s not enough. Sophie Kunin is one of them. She started speaking up a few months ago with a petition on campus for masking and vaccination. Now, she says to keep the campus safe she’d like to see all students vaccinated.

Back to school in 2021 feels for many a year late. However, COVID-19 is still on campus.

“We could finally feel like we could have our senior year. We could have our freshman year that we all wanted,” Kunin said.

Kunin is a senior, and triple major at the university. In August, she started a Change.org petition that asked the university to require students to mask if they aren’t vaccinated. It got more than 1,000 signatures, and she believes pushed the university towards their mask mandate currently in place.

“I’m hoping that the protest calls attention to the university that people care, and that people really want a safe place to call home,” Kunin said.

Now, she’s holding a protest. On Sunday, she and other students will be asking the university to require vaccinations, and hold the masking policy to a higher standard. Kunin says many students don’t take the policy seriously.

“This should alarm people my age that we’re young, but we’re not immune. We need to be careful that that means all of us at University,” Kunin said.

In Douglas County, COVID cases continue to trend upward. The health department says the county is about 65% vaccinated, but seeing low numbers of people making the decision to get the vaccine.

“It’s been a summer, you know, just low interest. We have, we’ve been averaging as a community about 1,000 vaccinations a month, and then a population of 122,000, with 30,000-ish, you know, people who are eligible to be vaccinated, that’s not a good pace,” Director Dan Partridge said.

Kunin hopes with more young people getting sick from COVID-19 the university will make getting the shot a requirement to be enrolled.

“Being vaccinated isn’t only about yourself, but those around you. I think it will also give you the freedom to go hang out with friends, and won’t end up in the hospital. It is a way to be safe both for yourself and the community. It would help stop people from dying,” Kunin said.

The university currently requires masks indoors on campus and on public transit. FOX4 reached out to KU for a response about the scheduled protest but did not hear back.

If you would like to attend the protest it will be on Sunday afternoon from 2pm to 6pm in front of Wescoe Hall on campus. Kunin says there will be a number of speakers, and you are asked to wear a mask.

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