Members of the ARC community protest against district’s vaccine mandate

Around 10-15 people protested in front of the ARC campus


On Jan. 26, members of the American River College community met in front of the ARC campus to protest against the Los Rios Community College District’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. (Photo by Alyssa Branum)

On Jan. 26, members of the American River College community staged a protest against the Los Rios Community College District’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in front of the ARC campus. 

The mandate was put in place by the LRCCD last August and requires students and faculty who access college and district facilities to be fully vaccinated.  

Around 10-15 people stood out in front of the ARC campus holding signs that voiced their displeasure with the district’s vaccine mandate with signs bearing messages such as “My Body My Choice,” “No Jabs For Jobs” and “Coercion Is Not Consent.” 

Some people driving by in cars honked in support, with some lowering their windows to voice support against the vaccine mandate. 

The protest was led by Ryan Nix, a health services assistant for ARC who has been a driving force for these protests against the mandate required by the LRCCD. 

Last September, Nix sent out an email with the subject line “Vaccine Mandate – Time to Organize,” urging others to oppose the mandate.

“This is medical coercion. I won’t stand by and watch it happen. When hired, our employment was not contingent upon receiving this vaccine, and many of us do not accept its risks,” Nix said in the email. “Our personal health decisions will not be dictated by a group of seven strangers [on the LRCCD board].” 

In the email, Nix also addressed the lack of group organization against the mandate. 

“I’m not waiting until I’m getting subjected to ‘progressive discipline,’ before I say something,” he wrote. “To date, there has not been concerted effort amongst staff members to organize and push back against the mandate, or to make their voices heard through means that are not ‘district approved.’”

Nix says he is in support of the employees and students who do not feel that the LRCCD has the right to force them to be vaccinated. They believe it’s their choice whether or not they want to be vaccinated. 

“We are standing up for medical freedom, freedom of choice and we are against the vaccine mandates that Los Rios has imposed,” Nix said at the protest. “That is why we are here.”

During the protest, ARC President Melanie Dixon walked out and talked to protesters, offered water to anyone who needed it and expressed her support towards people protesting what they think is right. 

“It’s a really difficult time trying to talk about how people’s bodies are in a position based on the mandate. So, I absolutely respect and support and appreciate them being out here, advocating for themselves,” Dixon said. “This is what colleges are all about, we are a community college that serves the community with various positions and perspectives, we support them all.” 

Nix said he tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of January, but he got testing done through Kaiser, so the district wouldn’t honor the result because it wasn’t through an approved testing company. 

He added that he thinks the district is discriminating against anyone who is unvaccinated. 

“[The district] isn’t honoring the Kaiser test result because it’s not with Biocept, which is their testing company,” Nix said. “If you are vaccinated you can submit test results from any provider, including Kaiser, so that is a clear discrimination against unvaccinated people.” 

Nix says that this is negatively affecting the student and staff’s mental health. 

“I see that it is affecting them negatively. A lot of people in our group say they have a lot of anxiety and a lot of stress,” Nix said. “They feel like it is a hostile work environment.”