Dozens of protesters gathered in front of Hayden Library on ASU's Tempe campus Friday to object to the University's new mask policy they claim to be "unlawful."
The protest, organized and hosted by Maricopa County Young Republicans and Turning Point USA at ASU, was in opposition to ASU's announcement Wednesday that masks would be required in certain buildings on campus.
ASU, UA and NAU all announced similar masking requirements, which may violate state law after an executive order issued by Gov. Doug Ducey in June — and signed into law with the state budget's passing — barred public universities from mandating masks or vaccinations in order to participate in the classroom or academic activities.
The event drew under 100 students and parents, many of whom were not affiliated with the University, including featured speakers Sen. Kelly Townsend and gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.
During her speech, Townsend mentioned the Constitution multiple times and claimed the new mask policy goes against the 10th Amendment.
"The Biden administration and other federal agencies have no constitutional right to come in and dictate to you if you should put a mask on your face or inject a non-approved vaccine into your arms," Townsend said.
University spokespeople claimed the policy does not violate state law since it was written to bar applying mandates "based on the student’s vaccination status or willingness to disclose that status."
"Our requirements apply to everyone on campus (students, faculty, staff, and visitors) and regardless of their vaccination status," said Jay Thorne, a University spokesperson. "They do not conflict with the order or the legislation."
C.J. Karamargin, a spokesperson from the governor's office, said Ducey is "not supportive of mandates or virtue signaling" in reaction to the policy.
"Ultimately, these mandates are toothless, unenforceable and will not hold up in court," Karamargin said to Arizona Capitol Media Services on Thursday.
Members from the United Campus Workers of Arizona union, including ASU faculty members Lee Bebout and Alex Young, counter-protested and advocated for mask-wearing.
Multiple studies show that masks help limit the spread of COVID-19. And with the increased spread of the virus in Arizona over the past month and the start of the semester just days away, both Bebout and Young support the new policy.
"We need a voice at ASU that supports science," said Bebout, an English professor. "We support ASU’s decision to do this. It doesn’t just keep me and my students safe, it keeps my colleagues' kids who are too young to be vaccinated safe."
Young, a faculty fellow at Barrett, The Honors College, said especially with having a child under the age of 12 in his family, "I want to show the ASU community that most of us are standing up for the recent mask mandate."
UA and NAU both followed ASU's lead in enacting mask policies that require them in indoor spaces where social distancing isn't possible. The Arizona Board of Regents also supported each of the universities' new policies.
"The steps taken by our universities comply with the executive order related to university COVID-19 actions and state law, and the board supports our university presidents for taking measures they believe are necessary to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus," ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson said in a statement Thursday.
Rae’Lee Klein, an ASU alumna who currently serves as an administrator for Charlie Kirk, president of Turning Point USA, said she supported students' freedom of choice and called the policy "another step in the wrong direction for this University.”
"I came out to support my fellow ASU students to have the opportunity to choose what’s best for their body," Klein said. "Whether it be vaccination, masks or any of the sort, (mandating) is just unethical."
Luke Mosiman, chairman of Maricopa County Young Republicans and an ASU student studying business law and civic and economic thought and leadership, said in a messaged statement that "The ASU mask mandate is unlawful, unscientific, and a disgusting attack on personal liberty."
Lake came out strongly against the policy on Twitter after its initial release, telling students to not comply. At the protest, she said students should "enjoy college as it should be enjoyed" and directly criticized President Michael Crow.
"They’ve taken too much away from you, we’re here to support you," Lake said. "Take the mask and tell Michael Crow to shove it."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Maricopa County Young Republicans chairman Luke Mosiman.
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