CONTRIBUTED BY / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
The question surrounding mandatory vaccine passports on university campuses and throughout the country is quite the hot topic these days.
Call me a sheep. Call me a sucker. Call me a victim of Big Pharma’s worldwide conspiracy to turn us into mindless vessels of consumption. Call me what you want, but I think that mandatory vaccine passports on university campuses are a good thing.
In almost all circumstances, there’s really no coherent argument against the effectiveness of the vaccine itself. It has been scientifically proven to save lives and to drastically lessen the total number of people contracting COVID.
There is, however, an ethical and political debate to be had concerning whether mandating proof of full immunization against COVID-19 is an appropriate measure for Laurier and the Canadian government to be imposing on people who want to use public services.
If you ask me, it is not only an appropriate measure, but a highly necessary one.
In case you haven’t heard, we live in a society. All jokes aside, if we want to participate in all the good things that living within the society can provide to us (i.e. going to the bar with your pals on the weekend) we need to do our part.
One of those responsibilities includes sacrificing a little tiny bit of personal freedom and/or privacy for the overall benefit of the people around us.
Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely your choice whether you want to get the vaccine. No one should be in the position to force or berate you into doing so.
However, if you want to reap the benefits of living within society at large, then you must be prepared to follow the rules that are in place to keep the general public safe and healthy.
Yes, you have personal freedoms – freedoms which I firmly believe should be protected to the fullest extent possible. The governing body of any organization, whether it be a nation like Canada or a university like Laurier, should under no circumstances take the limiting of personal freedoms lightly.
However, none of us exist in an isolated bubble; your right to decide against vaccination or providing proof of your vaccination becomes Laurier’s concern if you want to step foot on campus.
It becomes a concern of the Canadian government if you plan to be running around from one public space to another inadvertently spreading COVID like… well, like the plague!
The main argument that has been proposed against vaccine passports is one of government overreach and the potential for tracking.
But have you ever considered the fact that the government may not care about your day-to-day activities?
As long as you’re paying taxes, the government does not have the time or resources to spend on tracking your whereabouts as you go to McDonald’s for the third time this week.
However, once again, all jokes aside, if government overreach is your concern, it might ease your mind to be reminded that being required to provide proof of immunization to our academic institutions is not a new policy.
In order for any of us to have attended primary/secondary school, we had to provide proof of vaccination against tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella just to name a few. If you didn’t have a valid exemption, you would not have been allowed to step foot on your primary or secondary schools’ campuses if you had decided against receiving these vaccinations and then sharing these records with the school.
The vast pushback against vaccine passports on school campuses seems uncalled for given that this was standard practice for basically every major illness to plague North America in the past century.
Adding on to that, it’s not as though you are being denied access to a post-secondary education because you don’t want to disclose your vaccination status. Zoom classes are available to anyone who does not wish to get their COVID vaccine or provide proof of their vaccination.
The same curricular content is available to anyone regardless of immunization status. The privileges of being physically present in the classroom or participating in Laurier’s extracurriculars were taken away from everyone when the pandemic was just starting up.
Now, those privileges have been granted to those who are not risking public health on nearly the same level as the unvaccinated.
If you aren’t convinced by that argument, perhaps your concerns lie elsewhere. If loss of privacy is what is worrying you, the solution is simple: do not physically attend a Laurier campus this school year. Your “privacy” is only compromised should you wish to take part in on-campus classes and extracurriculars.
That being said, calling what is required of Laurier students to do a “breach of personal privacy” is quite the stretch.
As far as Laurier is concerned, providing proof of vaccination merely involves entering your vaccination information into the SafeHawk app, after which you will have access to your vaccine passport.
Canada’s implementation of the vaccine passport is a tad more involved but is still altogether not intrusive in the slightest. All it requires is that you display a QR code from your phone at the entrance of non-essential public places like restaurants, concert venues, and gyms.
They key word in that sentence being non-essential.
As I mentioned before, it’s hard for me to get behind the idea that one’s personal freedoms are being compromised because they feel it is their constitutional right to enjoy their night out with the boys at Applebee’s without the minor (at most) inconvenience of having to show the 17-year-old hostess their QR code before hand.
Canada is only in the position to begin reopening services and returning to its semi-normal pre-COVID existence because more and more Canadians have been vaccinated. It is more than reasonable for Laurier to mandate that its students prove they are fully vaccinated.
While I can agree that the issue of vaccine passports is a bit messier in the context of Canadian society at large, the underlying principle is the same whether it is a university mandating these immunization records or the federal government; if your personal choices have the potential to negatively impact matters of public health, it’s safe to say that the powers that be are justified in mandating vaccine passports in public places.