Thursday, 20 January, 2022
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University protests loom as students reject mandatory vaccines

Student protests could be on the card for Wits University, with the Student Representative Council (SRC) remaining adamant that the mandatory vaccine policy violates the rights of those who choose not to vaccinate against COVID-19.

Speaking to TimesLIVE, Wits SRC president Cebolenkosi Khumalo said the university should have adopted a “pro-choice” approach in its decision to implement the mandatory vaccination policy and that it was “doing the work of the government”.

“The government seems to be silent on whether students should be forced to vaccinate or not, causing unhealthy relations between management and the SRC, which is anti-mandatory vaccinations,” he said

Only about 30% of the students had been vaccinated, but this number would probably increase as the university was expected to establish two vaccine sites on campus.

The institution had cited budgetary constraints when the SRC had suggested it offer free on-campus COVID testing and screening for students who do not want the vaccine.

Khumalo said the SRC did not want the university to provide these at the expense of depriving poor students who cannot afford to pay for their studies.

“The SRC wants these funds to assist students to learn and register and have a place to sleep,” he said.

Wits said in its COVID-19 vaccination policy it would ensure the university provided a safe learning and teaching environment for students and staff.

Nhlonipho Nxumalo of the SA Union of Students (SAUS) expressed concern over universities that would prevent unvaccinated students from registering. She said the union would meet SRCs from universities countrywide and consider protests if institutions refused to ease their vaccination policies.

“We do not have any other means to express our grievances other than to protest. We have engaged universities and they have rejected our proposals and imposed mandatory vaccinations.”

 

TimesLIVE article – Wits SRC & SAUS reject mandatory vaccinations as universities gear up for 2022 (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Students believe in vaccines and put their faith in Pfizer and pharmacists — Wits

 

26-member SA universities body backs mandatory vaccinations

 

UCT and Stellenbosch academics line up behind mandatory COVID-19 vaccines

 

 

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