UW community members sign open letter to repeal vaccine mandate


Students, parents of students, faculty, staff and alumni have signed an open letter to the University of Waterloo asking to repeal its mandatory vaccination and testing policy.

As of Sept. 7, those who wish to come to UW’s campus are required to provide proof of their vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before coming to campus. The university will provide accommodations for individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or grounds protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code. 

“These mandates are unlawful, and their net effect will be to cause disease, not to prevent it,” the letter reads.

Michael Palmer, a UW chemistry professor, is one of several faculty members that signed the letter.

In September 2020, Palmer was under fire for referring to the pandemic as the “fake COVID emergency” in his course outline. Palmer did not respond to Imprint’s request for comment in time for publication.

Since being published on Aug. 26, the letter has garnered more than 120 signatures. This number is small in comparison to the number of those connected to UW, which currently has more than 42,000 students, 1,380 faculty and 2,600 staff members.

In a letter obtained by Imprint addressed to one of the signatories, UW president and vice-chancellor Vivek Goel and James Rush, vice-president, academic and provost, wrote that the university acknowledges the open letter and “respects the freedom of our community to express their opinions.” 

“The academic freedom of our community members to express their views is essential to the scholarly mission of the university. However, academic freedom comes with responsibilities,” the response reads. “Our institution’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be based on the best available advice from public health officials and is intended to meet our obligations to protect that [sic] health and safety of our community.”

The letter also states that the university’s measures are based on direction from the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The portal for vaccination status submissions became available on Aug. 27. By Aug. 28, more than 12,000 community members uploaded their proof of vaccination status, according to UW on Twitter.

According to a memo sent to students, faculty and staff on Aug. 24, anyone who is not vaccinated must provide proof of being fully vaccinated no later than Oct. 17. If those who are not fully vaccinated choose to come to campus before Oct. 17 or before they are fully immunized, they must have a negative rapid antigen test result no more than 72 hours before coming to campus.

Vaccine appointments are available for UW students, employees and family members of students and employees at Health Services. These can be booked by calling 519-888-4096.