University of Cape Town students oppose forced vaccination. Picture: EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT
University of Cape Town students oppose forced vaccination. Picture: EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

Petition against UCT’s mandatory vaccination proposal

By Murphy Nganga Time of article published Sep 15, 2021

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Cape Town - A petition objecting to UCT’s senate motion of mandatory vaccinations has been started at the university.

In an email sent out to students, it reads that the proposal of Mandatory vaccinations at UCT suggests that every student, as a condition of registering next year, will be required to provide proof of having been vaccinated. Similarly, all staff members, as a condition of being able to perform their duties, would need to provide proof of vaccination.

With over 1 000 signatures, the SRC rejects the motion and notes that the senate does not have the authority, in terms of the provisions of the Higher Education Act 101 of 1997 (HEA), as well as the related provisions in the UCT Institutional Statute to make binding recommendations to the UCT Council on matters that must otherwise be consulted widely within the university community.

The petition calls on all members of the university community to promote voluntary vaccination uptake, as vaccine uptake remains an individual decision in accordance with constitutional provisions, and it also calls on the university to establish logistical and operational features to carry out this mandate.

UCT student Riyaadh Lawrence said that the university’s attempt of making the vaccine mandatory is a cause for concern, and the university should take students concerns into consideration.

“I feel that this is just the university acting out their bureaucratic position to increase the total number of vaccinated people. At first, I was against the idea of receiving the vaccine so early, but now that we are forced to, I don’t have any other choice but to get myself vaccinated. It saddens me to think that an institution of higher learning is now forcing people to be vaccinated. People could be against the vaccine for personal and moral reasons, but now, in order for them to be registered at the best university in Africa, they have to be vaccinated,” said Lawrence.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said that the institution had noted the petition being circulated, and they are in the process of establishing a final decision.

“It is expected that the Senate will debate this complex matter fully. It is ordinarily the case that any final decision on a matter of policy for the university will have to be a decision of the University Council. The view of the Senate, should it support a proposal for vaccinations, and the view of representatives of staff and students, will be put to the UCT Council.”

“If taken forward, any decision on the proposal will ultimately be made by Council as the university’s highest decision-making body. Council will consider the proposal thoroughly before coming to any decision.”

“The university continues to encourage students and staff to get vaccinated. Since the government opened vaccinations for those aged 18 and above from 1 September, the UCT executive has initiated discussions over what the opportunity for more members of the university campus to get vaccinated means for UCT.”

“UCT has noted the surveys being run by the SRC as well as by the employee union for professional staff. These too are important constituencies in the decision-making process at the university and whose voice will be taken into consideration,” said Moholola.

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