Vaccinate UNC Now held its second rally of the semester on Friday.
The student-run organization is advocating for approval of a vaccination mandate for UNC students. Participants at the rally stood outside the Wilson Library as part of an ongoing effort to push for a warrant after the University failed to respond to that request by the original September 20 deadline.
Vaccinate UNC Now Organizers handed out letters for students to sign and hand-deliver at the South Building, which houses the Chancellor’s office. They also handed out “Vax UNC Now” buttons and had QR codes that students could scan to send pre-written email petitions to the college administration.
“Part of the reason we’re doing this second event is that we have a pretty long list of reasons and things that we would love to happen,” said Luke Diasio, one of the event’s organizers. ., noted. “After the last protest, the UNC sort of rejected it, saying they just thought they didn’t have the legal authority to do so.”
In addition to a mandate to vaccinate students, the organization listed other requests on its petition, such as a request that unvaccinated students and students who are unable to produce proof of vaccination remain out of the box. campus. He also called for a vaccine requirement for faculty and staff. The full list of issues and requests can be viewed here.
As of Monday, 93% of students, more than 93% of faculty and more than 83% of staff have certified that they are vaccinated, according to the UNC COVID-19 dashboard.
But some students, like senior Kaylee Tackett, don’t trust the certification rate displayed on the dashboard.
“I want a vaccination warrant because I don’t trust the attestation rate to truly reflect the vaccinated population, and we need to use all available tools to protect ourselves from COVID,” Tackett said. “If the attestation rate is so high, then why would making the vaccine mandatory be a problem?
Diasio said if the university cannot impose a vaccine, then it should require uploading physical proof of vaccination, which is currently optional for students.
According to a statement from UNC Media Relations, the university carried out weekly random audits and did not find any students who tampered with their information.
If the University is unable to verify a student’s attestation through the verification process, there may be a number of reasons, such as data entry errors, which cannot would not necessarily mean that a student has tampered with information, according to Media Relations.
The University will follow up if it has questions about a student’s information. If the UNC is unable to verify a student’s information, that student will be required to take a test twice a week as part of the Carolina Together testing program, media relations said.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in an interview with the Daily Tar Heel in August that he was in favor of a vaccine mandate, but the UNC did not have the power to mandate the vaccine.
“We’ve had these system-level conversations, healthy conversations around that,” Guskiewicz said at a faculty executive committee meeting on Aug. 30. “We were told to prepare ourselves that if there was a mandate that would come from the Public Health Commission, which could do that mandate at some point, we are ready for it.”
Alexander Denza, a sophomore and one of the organizers of the event, said that although the University reported high vaccination and attestation rates, it had not worked enough with students to understand health problems.
“During the student government meeting, they called it a publicity stunt,” Denza said. “It’s about feeling like we’re in an environment that doesn’t put aside health issues that have bigger effects.”
After being sent home shortly after his first day on campus in 2020, Diasio said COVID-19 had ruined his freshman experience. He said he hoped the administration would take into account his concerns and those of other members of the community.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this incorrectly indicated item Alexandre denzatitle of. He was one of the organizers of the Vaccinate UNC now rally. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this mistake.
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