For 22 years, it has been my privilege to be a member of this community. I have had the honor of knowing many of you and your children as my students at Centralia College. Like you, I have struggled to maintain some sense of normalcy in my life and workplace this past year.
To this end I have continued face-to-face classroom instruction for the past 12 months. During this time, only one student in my classes contracted COVID-19. This student recovered quickly and returned to class after just one week. Therefore, I am deeply troubled by the fact that as we approach the 2021-22 academic year our college is implementing a form of de-facto-vaccine mandates for faculty, staff and students.
This mandate has been depicted by some as strictly voluntary. I disagree. Faculty, staff and students who decline vaccinations will be required to wear masks at all times on campus. This mask mandate will stand in stark contrast to those who attest to being vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals will be given identifying lanyards and allowed to go maskless.
I oppose these repressive measures.
Mask mandates are designed to coerce individuals into accepting an experimental vaccine they do not want. This policy will further polarize our college and community. Furthermore, masking faculty, staff and students who are morally, ethically, religiously, philosophically or medically opposed to experimental vaccines deprives them of their rights under the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Moreover, masked individuals will almost certainly be targeted and vilified by those who object or oppose their health care decisions.
In addition, the de-facto-vaccine mandates currently being considered by our college may violate 21 U.S.C. §360bbb-3, which provides emergency use authorization for products like the COVID-19 vaccines, requires people have the option to accept or refuse administration of the product. Please see this topic at: lc.org/vaccine.
It is important to remember that we are a nation of laws, not edicts. We are citizens, not subjects. We live in a constitutional republic, not a monarchy. We are willing to be governed, but not ruled. We refuse to be labeled a misfit or malcontent for exercising our constitutional rights to freedom and liberty.
I embrace the words of Jan. 20, 1961, when our new President John F. Kennedy said “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” I am also moved by the words of Benjamin Franklin who said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
I implore Centralia College administration and the board of trustees to reject the de-facto-vaccine mandates and mandatory masking. This is a time for choosing. I pray we choose liberty and freedom over oppression and coercion.
Professor Gregory Gilbertson