Student formations at the University of the Free State have reiterated their stance against the mandatory vaccination policy. They say they are not opposing vaccination but students must not be coerced into taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the students their constitutional right to access education should not be trampled on.
Some students supported by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) picketed outside the University’s main campus in Bloemfontein.
Some students are calling for a review of the policy, while others want it to be completely scrapped. Some say they have been denied access to the University despite following all procedures they are required to follow.
Those who applied for exemption say there is no response from the university. And that the only way to access the university premises is by producing proof of vaccination.
“I have not been able access the campus. I did a PCR test, I was still not allowed. The security did not allow me to enter of which they said in their policy that if you have applied for exemption and have a PCR a negative test you will enter but they don’t allow us,” says one student.
Another student says, “I don’t think vaccination should be mandatory I think students should have option.”
Student formations have weighed in. South African Union of Students spokesperson, Asive Dlanjwa says should not be denied their constitutional right to access education.
“We are saying those who have chosen to exercise their constitutional right not to vaccinate they must have been impeded from accessing their constitutional right to education. Everyone must be able to access their rights. However, we are not saying that, we are opposed to the vaccinations themselves. We encourage all students and all citizens should go out and vaccinate as we believe the vaccine will protect them their families and society at large but they must not be coerced,” says Dlanjwa.
SASCO deputy secretary, Milani Tshangana and Axola Toto from EFF Student Command say this is a form of discrimination.
“We are saying no to mandatory vaccination. We are saying students vaccinate if they want to vaccinate and should access any gate that they want not that gate is for vaccinated people and certain gate is for unvaccinated people.”
“The policy does not make sense because we are segregated by gates but we are from the same social spaces. we use the same transport when we come here we will be in one classes when we enter but when exit we use any gate. It doesn’t make sense at all.”
Interim chairperson of the DA’s Student Organisation, Thabiso Mokhatla says they are not opposed to the vaccination itself, but students should not be denied access to education due to non-vaccination.
“We oppose the mandatory vaccination. In their policy as well, they say there are provisions that are set so that one can apply for exemption but here currently at gate- five the only provision that you can get is the needle. The say you can take a PRC test and you can access the campus but the PRC test on its own is expensive, I feel like basically now this COVID is a discrimination in a way checking the status quo of the students because most of them are poor,” says Mokhatla.
However, university management insists that there is provision for students to access the campus.
Director of student affairs at the University of the Free State Temba Hlasho says: “Students who are not registered and have a permanent QR code and who need assistance with the registration can obtain a day permit at the university’s gates to access campus to register. The university is continuing to encourage staff and students to vaccinate and it is not in any way forcing anyone to vaccinate. The vaccination site is available at the entrance gate.”
The University’s mandatory vaccination policy came into effect on Monday this week. All students and staff are required to produce proof of vaccination or apply to be exempted in order to gain entry onto campus.
Students protest against vaccine mandate in Free State: