August 18th, 2021

The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) has heard from students that they are concerned about returning to classrooms with no masks, no distancing, and no vaccine requirements while the COVID-19 virus and its variants remain uncertain. The UVSS, representing 19,000+ undergraduate students at the University of Victoria, has a responsibility to ensure the safety and accessibility of our classrooms. With the current plan, students who are immunocompromised and students who face increased risks and barriers to returning to campus cannot safely return to the classroom. All students, even fully vaccinated students, are at risk for contracting COVID-19 and its variants.

We need additional measures to ensure the return to campus is safe and accessible for all. That’s why the UVSS is calling on British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) to mandate masks and vaccines in post-secondary institutions this Fall, and for the University of Victoria to simultaneously advocate for these changes. This ask is supported by the Faculty Association, the Graduate Students’ Society, and in a recent statement by the UVic President, Kevin Hall on August 13th, 2021.

The UVSS also continues to advocate for the University of Victoria to adopt a hybrid model of course delivery, with options to continue online learning. This ask is in support of the Society for Students with a Disability’s Access4All campaign. To learn more about the Access4All Campaign, click this link. All students deserve safe and equitable education at UVic; safety and accessible learning for students during the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority for the UVSS.

Universities in British Columbia are falling behind other institutions in Canada when it comes to a safe return to campus. Many post-secondary institutions across Canada are currently mandating vaccines: University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, and all post-secondary institutions in Quebec, among others. Additionally, Lakehead University, McMaster University, Western University, York University, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, Queen’s University, and many others, have mandated vaccinations. The University of Victoria must follow the lead of these post-secondary institutions across Canada and ensure that all UVic students are protected from COVID-19, and have equitable access to post-secondary education. It is unacceptable that we are not doing so already.

In solidarity,

Marran Dodds (she/her) – UVSS Director of Outreach and University Relations

Q Roxas (they/them) – UVSS Director of Events

Robin Pollard (she/her) – UVSS Director of Campaigns and Community Relations

Mariel Hernández (she/her) – UVSS Director of Student Affairs

Dipayan Nag (he/him) – UVSS Director of Finance and Operations