Petition Against UCT Senate Mandatory Vaccination Requirements

Petition Against UCT Senate Mandatory Vaccination Requirements

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tiri chinyoka started this petition to University of Cape Town (UCT) Council

UCT Students and Staff Collective

September 17, 2021

To the UCT Council

Petition against the UCT Senate Motion on Mandatory Vaccinations

1.       We, the undersigned, hereby append our names to this petition to record our total and complete rejection of the UCT Senate motion that:

·         Recommends to Council that Council resolves, at its October 2021 meeting or sooner, to institute a mandate from 1 January 2022 requiring that all staff (as a condition of being able to perform their duties) and students (as a condition of registration to UCT) provide acceptable proof of having been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2;

·         Recommends to Council that Council mandates the executive officers of the University and the Senate, by no later than 1 November 2021, to constitute a panel comprising of eminent domain-specialists and members of the general staff and student bodies to

  • establish the logistical and operational features required to implement this mandate, including access to vaccination facilities as well as communications to staff, students and the wider University community; 
  • establish systematic principles, rules, and guidance relating to the permissible grounds for exemption from, or specification of alternatives to, the COVID-19 vaccination mandate; and thereafter to
  • act as the body that receives and adjudicates with compassion applications for exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination mandate;
  • monitor the effectiveness of compliance with and outcomes of this mandate, both at baseline and on an on-going basis;
  • continue to review the evolving medical evidence with regards to COVID-19 vaccination risks and benefits, and to revise and revisit this mandate should it prove necessary; and

2.       Notwithstanding our rejection of the Senate motions as listed in Paragraph 1 above, we nonetheless accept the common-sense appeal to the UCT community that:

  • Calls on all members of the University community to promote voluntary uptake of vaccination, through carefully-crafted public health messaging in the case of the Executive, and awareness-raising by both them as well as other members of the community.

3.       In our rejection of the Senate motions as listed in Paragraph 1 above, we note that:

3.1   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 such binding recommendations to the UCT Council on matters that must otherwise be consulted widely within the university community say via the Institutional Forum.

3.2   Senate must, in line with the provisions of the HEA, stick to its mandate on accountability for academic and research functions of the University, and unless requested to “perform such other functions as may be delegated or assigned to it by the council” desist from making binding recommendations on matters that otherwise affect every member and every function of the University.

3.3   Following from Paragraph 3.2 above, the UCT residences Community has (in line with the powers delegated to them by Council via the University Student Affairs Committee (USAC) and the Residences Committee) formally rejected mandatory vaccinations as a condition for residence admissions in 2022! USAC and the Residences Committee are not accountable to Senate and hence the Senate mandate would infringe on the autonomy of these and other UCT governance structures!

3.4   It should be noted, for example, that the UCT Council, during its June 19, 2021 meeting;

“Approved the [Student Housing Admissions] policy and also confirmed a directive to the Registrar to bring to Council a proposal to amend the Terms of Reference for the Senate Admissions Committee to make this committee’s delegated responsibilities, in terms of the Higher Education Act, clear and unambiguous.”

This after the Senate Admissions Committee had un-procedurally frustrated and blocked the approval of the Student Housing Admissions Policy for over two years since early 2019.

3.5   It can therefore not be acceptable that the Senate continues to appropriate broad powers to itself outside of the provisions of the HEA or the Statute of the university.

3.6   Vaccine uptake (especially regarding vaccines that are only currently approved for emergency use) remains an individual decision, in line with the constitutional provisions.

3.7   Even the possibility of mandatory testing of unvaccinated persons may be untenable and discriminatory given that none of the vaccines, currently under emergency use authorization, are 100% effective and that it is accepted that vaccinated persons would still contract COVID-19.

3.8   It is clear that under the present circumstances, the only viable option is for the University community to strongly and collectively promote voluntary uptake of vaccines via consistent, persuasive, and ethical messaging.

3.9   It is accepted that the UCT Council may request an institution wide discussion on the matter of vaccine mandates leading to a formal recommendation to Council on the matter, say via the Institutional Forum.

4.       The senate motion as summarized in Paragraph 1 is therefore strongly and totally rejected for the reasons given in Paragraph 3 above.

5.       We instead request that the UCT Council explore the directions as summarized in Paragraphs 2, 3.8, and 3.9 above. The Senate otherwise does not speak for, nor does it represent the UCT Community



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