Tensions are mounting ahead of a planned protest at Western University on Saturday, in opposition to the school’s recently announced COVID-19 mandates.
A newly formed student-led group calling itself Enough Is Enough said it informed campus police that it estimated between 500 and 1,000 people would take part in the protest.
Kendra Hancock, spokesperson for the group, said the protest was about freedom of choice.
“We’re a little tired of Western trying to control us, which has been going on for two and a half years,” Hancock said. “It’s time for us to be treated like adults, and we need to be able to make our own choices about our own health.”
Earlier this week, Western University announced its new health protocols for the fall semester, including mandatory booster shots and in-class masking.
The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association said it wanted to discuss details of the new health protocols with its employer, but President Hiram Perrinpanayagam said they were in favor of the rules.
“You have hundreds and hundreds of students in one lecture hall, don’t you? We need to be aware of the risks associated with this. We don’t want an outbreak in late fall and we should go back to, dare I say, online teaching and exams. »
Florentine Strzelczyk, provost and vice president of Western, released a statement on Friday:
“Western will welcome thousands of students and employees from over 120 countries to campus in just weeks. As a campus community, we are doing everything we can to protect in-person learning and a great on-campus experience. campus.
Our approach is informed by consultation with our medical experts and the Western community, and reflects many of North America’s top universities, including Brown, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, in accordance with CDC recommendations.
We thought a lot about this decision. And we heard from our campus community that this is the right approach for us and for our students.
As always, we are seeing a mixed response to our COVID protocols. We also hear from a lot of people who are not part of the western community. We know our approach won’t make everyone happy, but we’ve also heard from many people, including students, saying they’re happy to see us using all the tools at our disposal to keep them safe and have a consistent approach – personal experience this year.”
The protest at Western’s concrete beach is scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday.