For the University of Canterbury to provide more distance learning options to improve access to education through the pandemic, and an up to date, transparent evidence base for COVID management

An Open Letter to the University of Canterbury, Aotearoa. 

We, students of the University of Canterbury, request that the university conduct an independent, unbiased review of evidence and cost-benefit analysis regarding the mandates and vaccination recommendation. The university is an exemplary institution that promotes teaching excellence, and as such ought to provide an assessment of empirical evidence that overrides financial interests, and puts people at the forefront of decision making.

As students, we have been taught how to review literature and provide synthesised, unbiased reviews that assess the methodological limitations, the potential biases and confounders. We are taught to assess conflicts of interests and take care to identify where biases exist in published research. We are taught how to ensure that we constantly seek to falsify science, to know that what we conclude is a best guess, knowing what we know. We can never prove that something is 100% safe and 100% effective. Vitally, we are told there is no “one source of truth”. We are taught the difference between clinical and statistical significance, and to ask, if this risk exists, does the absolute risk reduction warrant the use of this intervention?

We have a right to an access to education, regardless of religious, spiritual beliefs. We are taught the importance of ethics and human rights, that informed consent is a vital construct in decision making, that coercion has no place in medical choice. And yet, the decision to enforce vaccination without providing an evidence-based review of the science behind these decisions, goes against the essence of what the university teaches.

We request that students are given options to continue their studies while these vital processes are carried out. That, at the very least, more course options are made available at distance. Further, we would like the following to be acknowledged:

Some of us are fully vaccinated, but are conscientious objectors of the vaccine passport. We cannot support a system that uses coercion and fails to meet ethical and human rights considerations. Or we have made an informed choice to be inoculated, but wish to stop at 2 doses, 3 doses. We do not want to support a system that oppresses our future choices, without sufficient evidence regarding transmission. Some of us are partially inoculated but have had an adverse reaction and cannot take further doses. We have been denied an exemption. Some of us do not wish to be vaccinated with an mRNA inoculation due to religious or spiritual beliefs, or because of the origin of some of the ingredients which contradict our core beliefs. Some of us had a severe reaction to some of the ingredients used in the inoculations as children, and have not been obliged an exemption. The majority of us have been fully vaccinated but are taking a cautionary principle with the COVID inoculation – we are not “anti-vaxxers”. We believe the use of shame, coercion, and bullying when encountering opinions contrary to one’s own, has no place in the scientific community. We welcome open discourse.

We ask that the university asks pertinent questions, and promotes the use of scientific rigor, uncensored, open science in the media and welcomes conflicts in opinion as a springboard to better available approaches to COVID 19 management.

Thank you for your time.

Your students.

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