Bowling Green State University, where I am a graduate student, instituted a COVID-19 vaccination mandate on Sept. 2.

A professor had briefly mentioned in class that Bowling Green State University would likely mandate the vaccine since the university usually follows the actions of Ohio State University. Ohio State instituted a requirement that students receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to starting the 2021 fall semester.

My professor’s comment prompted me to discuss the idea of protesting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate with some of my fellow students.

In collaboration with Bowling Green State University’s Young Americans for Freedom and Turning Point USA chapters, we sent a resolution expressing disdain of the authoritarian mandate to the offices of the president, chief health officer, dean of students, and general counsel.

The email said that although we as Bowling Green State University students are not against the COVID-19 vaccine itself or anyone who chooses to receive the injection, we do oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates. We want to protect students’ medical privacy and First Amendment rights.

I gathered with about 20 students in the outdoor student oval on campus to peacefully protest the university’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Sept. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Campus media interviewed several of us for a video and an article. Many students expressed support for our protest and said they would have joined us if they had not been headed to class.

About halfway through our peaceful protest, a counterprotester showed up with a sign that read “Love your neighbor. Get vaccinated.” This individual claimed that we also don’t care about people who have died of COVID-19.

Another individual asked whether they could join our protest—and then stole one of our screen-printed signs.

Several students who joined our protest have also asked that we continue our stand for freedom by protesting again on Sept. 23. We likely will continue protesting until November when proof of vaccination is due.

My summer internship at The Heritage Foundation inspired me to publicly stand up for my beliefs in front of my peers. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

I also learned strategies for effectively and courageously communicating my conservative principles.

In my resolution letter to Bowling Green State University, I utilized the researching, writing, and editing skills I learned at The Daily Signal. I also rallied together with two conservative campus organizations that had not yet collaborated.

Most importantly, professionals at The Heritage Foundation taught me how to engage respectfully in conversations with those who have opposing views.

I hope other young conservatives model our respectful behavior and have the courage to act as well.

As former President Ronald Reagan put it: “Freedom is a fragile thing, and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of inheritance. It must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. And those in world history who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

Everyone has a voice. My advice is to find it—and use it.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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