Students at the University of the Free State may have to present vaccination certificates to access campuses next year. This comes as the institution is looking to return students to campus in a way that will prioritize safety and minimise the risk of Covid-19 infections.
The University of the Free State intends to vaccinate all of its employees and students. The institution has proposed a policy that will require them to present vaccination certificates to enable them to move in and out of its three campuses.
The University’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis William Petersen said that from 1 February 2022 students will be required to present a vaccination certificate in order to access the university’s campuses.
Petersen also added that the university will only make an exception in instances where it is legally defendable to do so.
Our university recognises certain accepted and legally acceptable defences for refusing to be vaccinated and will respect this through a process that protects the constitutional rights of those staff and students. This will include setting up a reasonable accommodation panel comprised of necessary experts.
Students, as well as their campus representative bodies, have expressed their doubts about the mandatory vaccination policy.
SRC President Jerry Thoka says that the policy is still at its consultative stages and that they intend to further this process with all the stakeholders that are involved.
He also points out that most students feel that it is too early for mandatory vaccinations and that the university should instead continue with the existing safety measures.
Students feel that we are not yet at a point where the institution should move to the direction of mandatory vaccinations. So as the SRC we think that the university should be reluctant and allow persuasive measures to get students vaccinated.
More students went on to state that although they believe vaccination is important, forcing them to take it infringes on their constitutional rights.
The policy is yet to be implemented, pending the approval of the university’s council, which sits next month to make a decision on the new policy.