LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — Nearly 40 protesters gathered at the NMSU horseshoe Tuesday afternoon to protest the university-wide vaccine mandate.
“I say, my body my choice,” said Jody Kincaid, who said he is a retired naturopathic physician. “This is not about a disease. This is about political control.”
According to the university, NMSU receives $90 million in federal funds annually. Because of that reliance on federal dollars, the university must comply with the federal vaccine mandate. On Tuesday, 94% of employees were fully vaccinated. That would put 270 people at risk of losing their jobs by the January 4 deadline.
“The protesters have every right to be here and express their views,” said Ruth Johnston, the vice chancellor and chief COVID-19 official. “It’s so important for us to have a dialogue in a university, even if we don’t agree with it. ”
Minutes after the protest, university leaders approached protesters to start a conversation about the mandatory federal mandate.
On a certain moment, @nmsu leaders met with the anti-vaccine protesters for an open and honest talk about their frustration. Here’s an edited version: https://t.co/wwgqAouky8 pic.twitter.com/TvzfeeBMHG
— Kate Bieri (@KateBieri) Nov 10, 2021
“I’ve weighed my options,” said Kass Sammons, an executive assistant at NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Office. “The choice I made was not to get vaccinated.”
Sammons, who is at risk of losing her job, said she was happy to meet the weekly tests required for unvaccinated workers. She said she no longer felt like she had a choice.
“This is difficult,” admitted Johnston. “It’s a condition of employment. We’ve been asked and must abide by the federal mandate.”
Tuesday’s demonstration comes after the University of New Mexico deregistered hundreds of students who refused to be vaccinated or submit proof of waiver.
At the beginning of the semester, NMSU announced that students would have to be vaccinated or submit to weekly tests.
An NMSU spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that all employees and staff are required to be vaccinated before January 4 or they risk being fired. The deadline was originally December 8, but was pushed back with the federal requirement.
Click here to view Tuesday’s virtual town hall at NMSU.