College Students Hold a 'Die-In' to Protest Their Own Freedom to Unmask

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

At American University, students are demanding freedom — the freedom to be forced to cover their countenance.

It’s a unique kind of liberation, but perhaps par for the 2022 course.


On March 21st, the school ended its mask mandate. Hence, the private Washington, D.C. research institution is now punim-protector-optional.

And some students are irate. In protest, they recently held a “die-in.”

From school outlet The Eagle:

Katherine Greenstein, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and president of the Disabled Student Union (DSU), organized the (March 20th) rally in support of reinstating the University’s mask mandate along with the executive board of DSU, Cassidy Stoneback, the president of AU PRIDE, Cristian Mendoza Gomez, the president of the AU Public Health Association and Kaniya Harris, the director of Women’s Initiative.

Katherine put it thusly:

“[The mask-optional policy] is not a decision that is being made at the right time. We have to be able to prioritize the most vulnerable, so that means having a mask mandate and hybrid learning, and those aren’t things that are being prioritized right now.”

Before everyone pretended to croak at the hands of COVID, six speeches were delivered.

Amid her oration, Disabled Student Union Treasurer Laura Polomis said she was tired of being treated “as a commodity.”

“I cannot learn, I cannot grow if I’m in my dorm room scared for my life,” she pointed out.

Another DSU member recounted his reaction to the pro-preference policy switch:


“I was just heartbroken and frustrated and really mad because it seems to me that the people celebrating that decision were lacking basic compassion and basic care for others.”

As Access Center liaison for DSU Henry Jeanneret explained, it’s all about others:

“My discomfort [of wearing a mask] for an hour and 15 minutes is outweighed — and should be outweighed — by the health and safety of everyone else around me. Because I can take a break from wearing a mask, but my friends can’t take a break from being immunocompromised.”

The bunch isn’t the first to fight for compelled covering.

In September, students and teachers at the University of Iowa rallied for the same.

From my coverage:

At the die-in, Master of Fine Arts student Rob Ascher remembered through a megaphone last week’s less-than-fantastic first day of class:

“In the rhetoric department, I come in, and there’s not a single student wearing a mask. That ain’t right. I go into my classroom. If it’s a good day, half of my students are wearing a mask.”

And don’t get him started on sports:

“There’s a football game this weekend. That’s a super-spreader and a half.”

Sociocultural anthropology doctoral candidate Caleb Klipowicz was upset as well:

“[Campaign to Organize Graduate Students] is here to demand better COVID policies across campus. Things like vaccine and mask mandates as well as creating alternatives for teaching and learning online, other things that will save lives, prevent disease.”


It’s an interesting take. As a reminder, before any vaccine had been made available, the CDC reported infection fatality ratios thusly:

  • 0-19 years: 0.00003
  • 20-49 years: 0.0002
  • 50-69 years: 0.005
  • 70+ years: 0.054

As for masking, it seems to me that COVID is a permanent part of the world. It will long outlive anyone currently walking around. Therefore, at this point, every individual has two options:

  1. Forever wear a mask, because COVID will forever exist.
  2. Never wear a mask, because the only reasonable alternative is to always wear a mask.

But maybe I’m wrong.

Clearly, those at American University reckon so.

“Disability+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group Leaders, students and faculty members” have issued an open letter to the school’s administration, insisting the mask “change can wait.”

They want one more semester of force:

We repeat: Reinstate the mask mandate until the end of the spring semester. We promised students, faculty and staff in January that we would protect them and we should not fail them now. This change can wait, and it must.

What’s the justification for ending it in spring? Or ever? That doesn’t seem clear.

Of course, they can mask as much as they wish — in every class, in every place, during every semester — with or without a mandate.


For the remainder of always, those at American University — and concerned Americans across the country — can don face-diapers:

  • While at work
  • When playing sports
  • In the shower
  • During their weddings
  • While they sleep
  • When they swim

So goes freedom, and so goes the country — into the microbial unknown.

As for the immunocompromised nationwide, I hope they stay healthy and safe.



See more content from me:

University Puts Freshmen Through Its ‘Equity’ Orientation, Schools Them on ‘Whitesplaining’

UCLA’s Director of Race and Equity Wishes Death on Clarence Thomas

High School Biology Class Tells Kids Biological Sex Is a Social Construct

Find all my RedState work here.

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