UVic will require vaccination or rapid testing for fall semester

Campus News

Students will have to self-declare their vaccination status

File photo by Belle White

In just under two weeks, 20 000 students will return to UVic’s campus for in-person learning. When they return, students, faculty, and staff will have to self-declare that they are fully vaccinated or regularly participate in rapid testing.

The university is still developing the confidential platform that will be used. UVic President Kevin Hall said the new measures will be a “significant undertaking.”

“These plans are part of our commitment to the health and safety of our community and to a successful fall term,” He said. “We will share further details about this exciting next step for our return to campus as soon as possible.”

The university is also asking students to fill out a brief survey about their vaccination status so that they can plan their vaccination capacity for the fall. 

This announcement comes after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said universities could not issue vaccine mandates for students on Tuesday. Although this new announcement is markedly different from Henry’s, Hall says the change was made in consultation with the province. 

“It has been extremely helpful to our team as we worked together with the Ministry and the PHO to develop an approach that works for B.C. universities,” Hall said. 

In addition to declaring their vaccination status to the university, students will still need to present vaccine certificates at some campus settings. The vaccine certificates will be presented on phones and will be needed to access campus bars and patios, gyms, pools, indoor ticketed sporting events, and indoor organized events or club events. 

After Henry announced the vaccine certificate on Tuesday, many in the campus community felt it didn’t go far enough. 

The UVic Faculty Association has been urging the university to adopt a vaccine mandate for months. Their latest statement, which followed Tuesday’s announcement, strongly urged UVic to go beyond Henry’s guidelines. 

“[The lack of a vaccine mandate] reflects a total lack of understanding of university environments, where students move between two to three classes of 200 or more students each day,” said UVic Faculty Association President Lynne Marks in a press release. “Allowing students to remain unvaccinated, with no requirement for rapid testing, reflects a lack of concern for the health of faculty, staff, and students.”

Meanwhile, professors from the Faculty of Law penned a letter to Hall. In their view, the university has a legal justification to impose a stronger vaccine mandate for students. They also argued that a vaccine mandate would be in the university’s best interest. 

“The government has identified no legal basis for assuming jurisdiction over on-campus health and safety matters, and no legal basis for prohibiting the University from adopting a vaccine mandate,” the letter said. 

With just two weeks until the fall, those not already fully vaccinated won’t be by the start of classes. Students, staff, and faculty can get vaccinated easily by visiting a walk-in clinic. There will also be a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Student Wellness Centre in September.