Western University Student Council Voted Against Motion to Oppose School’s COVID-19 Rules

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Over the past days, one of the largest research-intensive universities in Canada, Western University, updated its COVID-19 policy, announcing it will require its students, faculty, staff, and some visitors to receive three doses of COVID-19 vaccines and use masks indoors.

The university has required masks indoors since September 1, while starting October 1, 2022, all members of Western U will be asked to show proof of vaccination, including the booster shot, Erudera.com reports.

Such measures have led to discussions about whether the Western University Student Council (USC) should oppose the school’s mask and vaccine policy.

During a council meeting, Peter Kermack, a Social Science councilor, proposed a motion that the council should formally oppose the mandates, mentioning backlash from students.

The motion was later changed to oppose the mask requirement in classrooms, the official student newspaper at Western University, the Gazette reported.

“If this motion fails, the USC will have demonstrated we are not committed to the interest of our constituents, allowing Western administration to continue to develop this policy that students deemed harmful without opposition,” Kermack told the Gazette.

However, the Students’ Council voted against the call to oppose mask and booster mandates. More than half of the council members, or 53 percent, voted against the motion, 36 percent in favor, and five percent abstained. Differently, the motion urging the university to be more transparent and communicative about its policies was unanimously adopted.

Despite voting against, USC president Ethan Gardner said that the council is uncertain on its stance on whether it should be neutral or support the university’s decision to implement mandates.

“It’s incredibly difficult to have one very strong stance that’s going to support all the student body. We are not going against the mandates, but because again, there’s no one stance that’s going to represent everybody unless a councillor next month brings forth a new motion,” Gardner told the student newspaper.

The decision also prompted a massive protest organized by Enough is Enough Western, a student-led group. Nearly 400 persons joined the protest to oppose the university’s vaccine and mask requirements.

Protest organizer Kendra Hancock said that the event aimed to “restore choice,” adding that it was one of the few times when the student body was united, which according to her, is something that the university should pay attention to.

Chris Mohan, an Ivey Business School councilor who introduced the motion, disclosed that more than 500 individuals participated in a survey, which showed that 55 percent of respondents opposed the booster mandate.

Last year, Western University was among the first universities to require the use of masks, following assessments that masks are an effective way to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

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