Students, social media react to RRC vaccine mandate

By Margaret Spratt

Red River College recently announced only vaccinated people would be allowed on campus this fall, and students are having mixed reactions. 

“I feel safer coming in knowing that everyone’s vaccinated,” said Mallori Hunt, a Business Administration student.

But some people disagree.

In August, an anonymous person claiming to be an RRC student created an Instagram account to protest the vaccine mandate.

Since then, the account has garnered more than 2500 followers, and roughly the same number of people have signed a petition decrying the college’s vaccine policy.

Teagan Algeo, a current RRC student, wearing a mask inside the Exchange District campus./MARGARET SPRATT

Teagan Algeo, an Electrical Engineering Technology student, said he empathizes with people’s frustrations despite getting his shots back in June.

“They don’t like being mandated to do things,” said Algeo. “I can kind of understand that. You know, getting force-fed and not having a choice.”

Requiring on-campus students to be vaccinated is a means to protect people, and the college is accommodating students who are unable to be vaccinated, reads a public statement from RRC President Fred Meier.

“To be clear, we are not mandating anyone to get a vaccine. We will continue to respect medical and religious/creed-based exemptions upon presentation of appropriate documentation,” the statement said.

With the mandate, unvaccinated visitors with exemptions will have to undergo weekly testing to enter the campus.

COVID-19 information signs are placed around the Exchange District campus./MARGARET SPRATT

RRC has also designated its programs under three categories: online, essential, and blended.

Roughly half of RRC’s programs are essential, meaning students have to attend at least a portion of their course in person. This category includes hands-on disciplines like trades, medical, and culinary studies.

Other programs that do not require in-person training are available with blended or online delivery, meaning students have the option to attend virtually.

Hunt said she thought misinformation could be the reason why some students are fighting the vaccine mandate at RRC.

During the first few months of the pandemic, 96 per cent of Canadians saw COVID-19 information online that they thought was false, according to a 2021 Statistics Canada survey.

In an Instagram Messenger exchange with The Projector, the person behind the anti-mandate petition at RRC said one per cent of people infected die of COVID-19.

The actual fatality rate is closer to two per cent, which translates to 27,537 dead Canadians—a number that continues to grow daily.

Those statistics don’t account for the vulnerable and elderly who die outside of the hospital without COVID-19 testing. Ultimately, the death toll could be double what the data shows, suggests a study from the Royal Society of Canada.

Death isn’t the only consequence of COVID-19. Some survivors suffer long-lasting symptoms even after getting over the virus—a phenomenon known as long COVID.

The vaccine mandate officially began on Sept. 20, requiring one dose of the vaccine (or a negative test result alongside an exemption) to be on campus. A second dose is required by Oct. 17.

The college is also hosting a pop-up vaccine clinic on Oct. 15 at the Exchange District Campus. It will run from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in Room A116.