FARGO — North Dakota State University student Carter Eisinger said he isn't anti-mask or anti-vaccine.
What he and about 20 others who joined him on a protest march on Monday, Aug. 30, are against is the mandate by NDSU to wear masks in classes.
"It should be a personal decision," said Eisinger, the protest organizer and leader. "It's about freedom and liberty.
"Students shouldn't be forced to wear masks," said the senior who represents the College of Engineering in the university's student senate.
When asked if he thought they might get the mask mandate overturned, he said, "We'll see how the student body responds."
If the march was an indicator of how NDSU students feel about the mask rule, support for Eisinger's group may be limited.
The protest took place as cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus are gripping North Dakota with rising cases and hospitalizations and a growing number involving younger people.
Nonetheless, Eisinger said he was going to call for a vote in the student senate.
He said the student senate exists in order to protect the rights of students.
"The ability of everyone to make a choice, that is the protection of student rights," he said.
His group is also going to be meeting with NDSU President Dean Bresciani on Friday, when he said they would ask him how the decision was made and express to him how they feel.
"We want to understand why the decision was made," said Eisinger, who was holding a sign that said, "We may be a herd but we ain't no sheep."
Eisinger said they had about 116 followers on their Instagram account protesting the masks.
Sara Smith, a sophomore from Fargo, said it was about students "making an mature, adult decision" about the masks after researching and studying the issues and data.
"It's about personal liberty," she said before the students began a walk across campus that ended at the president's house.
Meanwhile, seated on a bench nearby, freshman Rhone Nelson of Minot was wearing her mask and said she does it to "keep myself and others safe."
"We need to stop the spread. I just want things to get back to normal," said Nelson, who became accustomed to wearing masks during her senior year of high school in Minot last year.
When asked if students in her classes at NDSU are all wearing masks as classes just get underway, she said almost all of them are doing so.
There were one or two in some of her classes who weren't, Nelson said, but one professor told a few students they had to wear a mask or leave. Another one of her professors sent an email to students telling them they were required to wear masks in class.
As the students were leaving for the march, one protester urged the students to express their feelings with love, not hate.
"Be nice," she said.