Should universities continue with their plans to implement mandatory vaccinations as stipulated in their policies, the South African Union of Students (SAUS) has threatened to embark on protest actions.
This is according to SAUS secretary-general Lukhanyo Daweti.
“Vaccination has proven to be a trial and error. To us, SAUS, this process of vaccination has proven to be a research process, so SAUS is against students being used as experimental objects.
“Should the mandatory vaccination affect students in any way, then SAUS will not have a choice but to take action that will protect students,” said Daweti.
Last year, a number of higher education institutions announced plans to adopt mandatory vaccination policies for both staff and students.
Institutions such as Rhodes University, University of Cape Town, University of Free State, University of the Witwatersrand, Durban University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape are among of universities that have these mandatory vaccination policies.
According to the University of Free State, the aim of the Covid-19 Regulations and Required Vaccination Policy is to regulate access of staff, ad hoc contract workers and students to all the university’s premises.
While the university cautioned that the policy does not force people to get vaccinated amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the institution has the right to require vaccination if you want to access its premises in order to protect staff and students.
Daweti told IOL that the students’ union was seeking legal advice on the matter. He stressed that the aim of getting a legal opinion is to understand the process in which the institutions followed in establishing mandatory policies.
The secretary-general said, as a union, they support the vaccination roll-out. However, they believed that students were being bullied by universities into getting the jab. He said there were no proper consultation procedures followed.
“Some student representative councils indicated to the union that they came across this debate at senate level where it was already being proposed, as the point engagement. Students were never involved in the process of drafting mandatory vaccination,” he said.
Universities have already announced that the mandatory vaccination policy would be in effect at the start of the academic year.
According to the Rhodes University policy, students and staff who would like to be exempted from this policy would have to make an application which will be reviewed by a team.
If the exemption is successful, then one of the requirements may be for the student or staff member to produce a negative Covid-19 test result on a weekly basis. This would be at the cost of the student, staff member, visitor or service provider concerned in specific circumstances.