The South African Union for Students (SAUS) had warned that student protests will occur at the beginning of the academic year due to mandatory vaccines. Now, University of Free State (UFS) students have started with protests.
Students at the University of Free State (UFS) have voiced their concerns about the university’s mandatory vaccination policy by protesting.
The UFS council approved its vaccination policy on 26 November 2021, which was then followed by the commencement of the academic year on 14 February 2022.
Other South African universities had also made the very same announcement when the 2021 academic year was coming to an end.
A UFS student who was also part of the protest said he does not think vaccinations should be mandatory, but rather believes that students should have options.
Student bodies weighed in by stating that students who have chosen to exercise their constitutional right not to vaccinate, must not be hindered from accessing their constitutional right to education.
The university’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Francis Petersen had said the policy implied that the university does not force anyone to be vaccinated, but the institution has the right to require vaccination if students want to access its premises, in order to protect its staff and students.
Students have reported that they have been denied access into the university premises irrespective of following all of the procedures that they are required to follow, specifically those who applied for exemption, saying that there had been no response from the university
In a SABC live interview, SAUS spokesperson, Asive Dlanjwa clarified:
We are opposed to the vaccinations themselves. We are encouraging that all students and citizens should go out to be vaccinated as we believe that vaccine will protect them, their families and societies at large.
The student union added they are not opposed to vaccines, but students should not be coerced into vaccinating.