UWC Vaccine Mandate: Students Upset by University’s Decision, Fight for Freedom of Choice

UWC Vaccine Mandate: Students Upset by University’s Decision, Fight for Freedom of Choice

  • Students at the University of the Western Cape will need proof of vaccination to access the campus and related facilities from the start of next year
  • The university's students will be allowed to register without being vaccinated but will need to have received the vaccine to attend events or stay in residences
  • Student leaders expect students to protest against the new policy as many need to access campus resources but do not want to get vaccinated

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CAPE TOWN - The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has announced that it will be compulsory for its students to be vaccinated against Covid-19 if they wish to access campus (including residences) or attend events held by the university.

This policy will come into effect at the beginning of next year. Other tertiary education institutions, such as the University of the Free State and the University of the Witwatersrand, have implemented similar policies.

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The students will be allowed to register irrespective of their vaccination status. However, students do not feel that this concession is enough and many are predicted to protest against the new policy, according to the Daily Voice.

UWC, University of the Western Cape, vaccine mandate, Covid-19, education, Covid-19 vaccine
The University of the Western Cape will implement a Covid-19 vaccine mandate from the beginning of the 2022 academic year. Image: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images via Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Student leaders foresee protests because of the vaccine mandate

According to IOL, student leadership at UWC feel the policy goes against freedom of choice. Sakhile Mngadi, from the Democratic Alliance’s Student Organisation (DASO) at UWC, suggests that the council repudiate the university's vaccine mandate as it limits unvaccinated students from accessing basic resources such as libraries and computer labs.

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“This forced approach is not the way to go if you want to encourage students to get vaccinated; the university must create spaces for engagements with students so that they can make an informed decision about the matter," Mngadi said.

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Mngadi says that some students need to access the campus to register for the academic year, as they do not have the resources to do so online. This could lead to protests, as students in these situations will not be allowed on campus unless they are vaccinated, but having no other means to register puts them in a catch-22 situation.

Mngadi says he supports the concept of a vaccine mandate for the campus but feels that the university must provide resources for students who need to learn online. He also called on UWC's administration to come up with a plan to support unvaccinated students in practical disciplines who would need to come to campus and interact with others.

UWC says some students will be subjected to a soft mandate

In a statement issued by the university, for some students, a soft mandate will be implemented which will require students to be vaccinated in order to gain access to campus and attend in-person classes.

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Students who choose not to get vaccinated will be still be allowed to register and will attend online classes, however, the university says a soft mandate can not be applied across the board.

For students who are in the Dentistry faculty, for example, a hard mandate will be applied in their cases. This means that they will have to get vaccinated in order to register at UWC.

Reactions to UWC's vaccine mandate for the upcoming academic year

Taryn Stephanie Baard said:

"It's still against the law, they cannot do that. It is against the Constitution and mandatory has not been changed into a law yet."

Maerlin Swanepoel shared:

"And suddenly my career path has changed from wanting to be a doctor to just being a taxi guard."

Gail Van Der Speck believes:

"So they can give all those students who don't want the vaccine their money back."

Lihleli Konzie said:

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"I wish UWC could have been this quick at settling student issues. There's student issues that have been there for more than 10 years but they so quick at solving the Covid issue."

Desmond Uzzi Stevens believes:

"Well done UWC . The unvaccinated must be not welcome anywhere!"

Vaccines are likely to protect against the new variant

Previously, Briefly News reported that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has said that, although not much is known about the new Covid-19 variant, the vaccines which are currently available should protect people against it.

The health department and related officials encourage South Africans to get vaccinated as it could not only protect against the variant but also decrease the severity of the upcoming fourth wave.

Joe Phaahla, the Minister of Health, has said that vaccine hesitancy and a slow uptake are concerning as this could cause a severe fourth wave at the end of the year. He added that the more vaccinated people there are, the less likely mutations are to happen.

Source: Briefly News

Claudia Gross avatar

Claudia Gross (Editor) Claudia Gross holds an MA in Journalism from Stellenbosch University. She joined Briefly's Current Affairs desk in 2021. Claudia enjoys blending storytelling and journalism to bring unique angles to hard news. She looks forward to a storied journalistic career.