McGill, News

McGill to mandate vaccine passports for library access starting mid-October

Deputy Provost Fabrice Labeau announced Sept. 17 that McGill students and faculty will need to show their Quebec vaccine passports in order to access campus libraries starting mid-October. Library staff will be exempt from this mandate.

While conferences and classes will not bar unvaccinated students from attending in person, Labeau exhorted students to get vaccinated, stressing its importance for both students’ personal well-being and that of the community.

The administration will be implementing the policy by mid-October, and will provide a one-month grace period before the policy comes into full effect. The grace period will give students and faculty the chance to register their vaccines if they were received out-of-province, or to get vaccinated if they have yet to do so. The new policy will still allow unvaccinated students and non-library staff to borrow books or materials they may need via a pick-up service that is still in the works. 

Vega Hitti, U3 Science, is in favour of the vaccine passport mandate for access to McGill’s libraries.

“It makes sense, [as] staff and students are there [at the library] as a benefit,” Hitti said. “It might be more discriminatory to keep people from their jobs , versus what students and staff have as a privilege.” 

Hitti argued that the administration should focus on strategically opening other areas as well.

“I know in my department, the lounge was closed,” Hitti said. “The cafeteria, which can gather so many people, is open. There could have been better efforts made [by the university] to make sure [vaccinated] people have more places to go rather than pooling people in the library or cafeteria.”

Frédérique Mazerolle, McGill media relations officer, reminded the community that the vaccine passport is already required to access certain parts of the university, so asking community members to present a vaccine passport to enter the library is plausible. 

“The vaccine passport is required to access a wide range [activities], including sports [practice] in the framework of McGill’s varsity program and recreation program, [fitness] centers, sporting events, and or any non-curricular event,” Mazerolle wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune.  “While the library was not part of the original list of places and activities requiring a vaccine passport at McGill, we have determined that it is possible to apply it, as long as students, faculty and staff can get access to materials needed for study or work through other means.”

Some students are apprehensive about the upcoming changes to accessing McGill’s libraries, including Inheon Choi, U1 Arts.

“That’s kind of forcing people to be vaccinated,” Choi said. “It violates the freedom of students, not only students, but everyone. I have friends who are not vaccinated due to religious reasons, so this does not respect religious or cultural issues. I agree we all should be vaccinated, but this is a little too much.”

Despite disagreeing with the vaccination requirement for library access, Choi is content with McGill’s overall approach to hybrid learning. 

“I think that it is really good they are offering online classes, for the 150+ [enrollment] ones,” Choi said. “The fact that they are online gives us the opportunity to participate, even without the vaccine, in a safe environment.”

Maggie Allen, a senior library clerk, was pleased with the policy, but believes it should extend to library staff as well.“I am 100 per cent for having everyone vaccinated and having to show proof before being allowed in the library,” Allen wrote in an email to the Tribune. “I do not agree at all with staff being exempt [from the vaccine passport requirement]. Unless there are underlying medical reasons that you cannot be vaccinated, there is no viable reason that you should not be. Universities should not be the place to breed ignorance.”

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