GSU Faculty Protests Lack of Mask Mandate

Protests to be held every day this week

Faculty members gathered outside the Student Union Mon., Sept. 13 to protest the University System of Georgia’s (USG) lack of mask mandate.

“The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia knows that they are failing their students,” said Dr. Bryan Riemann, who teaches sports medicine at Armstrong and serves as director of the Biodynamics and Human Performance Center.

Dr. Riemann and Dr. Ned Rinalducci, who is an associate professor of sociology, both gave opening remarks that were highly critical of USG’s policies, claiming that the policies were based in politics rather than science.

“We want the Board of Regents in the University System of Georgia to stop acting like political appointees with no knowledge of public health and higher education; that they are, and should start acting like, the responsible citizens they need to be, and make policies that protect our students, protect our families, to protect the families of our students and staff, and the time for that is now,” Dr. Riemann said later in his address.

While the protest was focused primarily on the lack of mask mandate, faculty seemed to be most frustrated over the dissonance between the pandemic data that they are seeing versus the response USG has taken.

“I don’t know how much clearer the data has to be for us to have some movement. We need a multi-layered approach. Vaccines are great. They definitely have made a difference for us. But we do see breakthrough infections. It’s not the be-all end-all. We need a multi-layered approach and the science clearly suggests that mask-wearing works,” stated Dr. Rinalducci in his own opening.

Dr. Riemann agreed to a brief interview after the opening remarks.

“I would like to be optimistic, but cautious. It just doesn’t seem like they’re willing to follow the science at this point,” he said when asked if he expected a response from USG.

Dr. Riemann and his peers acknowledge vaccination as a key ingredient in slowing the spread of the Delta variant of
COVID-19, but are still frustrated by the lack of a mask mandate, stressing the importance of using every strategy possible to keep people safe.

“When you’ve got multiple tools in your tool belt, why would you not use them to accomplish the same thing? Vaccination clearly has been demonstrated to decrease hospitalizations and the severity of the disease, but we still do see a lot of these breakthrough cases and there are still folks that have some serious consequences.”

As a professor in the field of sports medicine and biodynamics, Dr. Riemann has advice on other ways to improve your immune system other than vaccination and mask-wearing.

“Vitamin D levels seem to be a pretty good predictor of some of the severity of the disease.”
He also recommended an over-the-counter nasal spray of xylitol and grapefruit extract as a way to further combat the virus.

“Because my wife and son can’t get vaccinated, we have a very regimented supplement nutraceutical system… Xylitol has an affinity for COVID, so when you inhale it it will bind to COVID, preventing it from getting into your cells… In addition, that nasal spray contains grapefruit seed extract, which is anti-viral.”

Faculty protests plan to continue every day this week across all USG campuses. More information on these protests can be found on their Facebook page.

Students seeking information on vaccination clinics, self-reporting, and more can find the information on the “COVID-19 Information and Resources” section of their MyGeorgiaSouthern portal.