We all deserve to work and study at a university that takes safety seriously.
Post-secondary institutions must ensure that campuses are safe for all students, faculty, and staff. A fourth wave of COVID-19 is beginning furiously in Ontario, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. There is significant anxiety and uncertainty among students, faculty, and staff at Trent University concerning our safety when returning to campus this Fall term. A return to in-person learning requires a clear and comprehensive plan for keeping everyone on campus as safe as possible. Such plans must include mandatory vaccinations for those present on campus, respecting exemptions and requests for accommodation based on medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Council of Ontario Universities and Colleges Ontario have called for a province wide policy requiring the vaccination of students, staff, and faculty who are learning and working on campuses. In the absence of such a policy, some post-secondary institutions are finally taking these crucial initial steps towards prioritizing safety themselves. The University of Ottawa, Seneca College, Queen’s University, the University of Guelph, Ontario Tech University, the University of Toronto, Western University, and Peterborough’s own Fleming College have all adopted vaccination mandates of one form or another. However, these mandates are not all created equal. They range from self-declaration to providing proof of vaccination.
CUPE 3908 calls on Trent University to require mandatory vaccinations for every person on campus, respecting exemptions recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code. We also call on Trent to follow the lead of Seneca College, Western University, and Fleming College to require proof of vaccination status. Furthermore, there must be robust enforcement of a strong mask-wearing policy in addition to social distancing. COVID-19, and the Delta variant in particular, leave no room for chance. There are those who cannot be vaccinated or are immunocompromised who rely on others to do everything they can to protect them.
This will be an especially challenging year for everyone at Trent. It is our collective responsibility to keep each other safe.