Mona guild president supports vaccination mandate for students choosing to live on campus
Danielle Mullings also encourages hall staff to get vaccinated
AS THE NEW school year kicks off, The UWI, Mona Campus has mandated that all students wishing to move into a campus residence hall be vaccinated. Danielle Mullings, President of the Guild Council, the body representing all UWI Mona students, has supported this move.
Speaking with UWIMONA Now recently, Mullings noted that this mandate was appropriate particularly since there was a minor outbreak on one of the halls earlier this year, and the country continues to battle new variants. "If there is a shot at having a safer environment for our staff and students then it is something that we're going to back and be behind,' she said, adding that she would not want to see another outbreak on hall, especially to the point where "students will need to be hospitalised or worse...'.
She also mentioned that the Council had made a request to The UWI administration for staff on the halls of residence to be vaccinated, and that this was agreed on. "While they can't mandate it, they have encouraged all the staff on hall to be vaccinated. If there are persons who don't want to be, then they can be rotated to a different space within The University so that we'll end up with a space where everyone is vaccinated,' Mullings said. Emphasising the importance of such a move, Mullings pointed out that halls are "communal' spaces. "You share kitchen, you share bathrooms, you share common areas. It's home, so I think it's important to have that added layer of protection,' she said.
While Mullings fully supports The University's mandate, it is not a decision that she came to lightly. "In these discussions about mandating anything, it always comes back to, 'is there a viable alternative for those who don't wish to [get vaccinated]?'. In this instance with halls, there is a viable alternative; persons don't have to live on Campus, it's not a requirement in order to study here. The Office of Student Services and Development has also committed to assisting students with finding accommodation nearby, as well as they have the caveat to say that if a student has a valid medical or religious reason [for refusing the vaccine] and have the information to back it up, then they would be accommodated on a case-by-case basis,' she said.
"I do believe that choice should always be preserved and, in this instance, I think it has been. It's just that you're now going to choose whether you live here on hall or if you live nearby,' the guild president added.
While her personal belief is that vaccination is the way to normalcy, Mullings encouraged her constituents to conduct their own research and draw valid conclusions. "I think all persons should assess all the information coming at them, and follow accurate news sources. Ensure that you're seeking out verified, accurate sources of information and, after reading through it, come to your own decision as to whether it's best for you or not. As individuals undertaking studies, I think we've learned how to do research. So, do your own research, come to your own opinion on it and ensure that you're not letting fear drive you or letting random information off social media drive you,' she said.
Students wishing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 may do so at the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre on the Campus.