A United Campus Workers of Georgia protest against COVID-19 protocols drew a crowd of about 50 demonstrators and 30 counterprotesters to Tate Plaza Monday.
The University of Georgia’s chapter of UCWGA is one of 26 across the state university system hosting weeklong protests jointly with the American Association of University Professors. UCWGA is demanding that the University System of Georgia implement a mask mandate inside campus facilities, as well as a vaccine mandate with regular testing for those with medical or religious vaccine exemptions.
The protest began at 10 a.m. Alex Watts, a freshman majoring in international affairs, was in attendance to support mask and vaccine mandates.
“I am on immunosuppressants and students in my class aren’t required to wear their masks. I cannot afford to get sick and shouldn’t have to compromise my education,” Watts said.
Watts said USG was to blame for the unsafe situation on UGA’s campus. “You are letting people die and be hurt by what you’re doing purely for the donors’ sake and the approval of the public,” Watts said. “You are letting your students die and not letting them receive the education they are here to receive.”
A group of about 30 counterprotesters clashed with the UCWGA group when they arrived in the plaza to oppose more COVID-19 protocols. The anti-mask and vaccine mandate rally was hosted by the Athens Anti-Mandate group. The counterprotestors carried signs, some of them stating “my body, my choice.”
“We are not against masks and vaccines, we are just against the force of a mandate.” said Clarissa Beck, a junior risk management and insurance major. “I haven’t gotten vaccinated due to religious reasons. I am Catholic and the vaccine mandate goes against what I believe … We should have the freedom to choose.”
The UGA chapter has protests scheduled for every weekday this week.