WATCH: UChicago students push back against in-person learning, booster mandate

Students at the University of Chicago are openly protesting their school over its COVID policies for the Spring 2022 semester.

Students gathered on Jan. 14 to protest the school’s plan to return to in-person learning after two weeks online.

Others have called out the university’s COVID restrictions for being 'unethical.'

Students from both sides of the political aisle at the University of Chicago (UChicago) are pushing back against the school for its recently implemented COVID policies. Some students believe the school is being too lax, while others are denouncing an “unethical” booster mandate.

On Jan. 14, members of the UChicago community organized a protest in opposition to the school’s decision to return to in-person instruction after the two-week online period. 

The school had recently announced that it would be “delaying the start of Winter Quarter for most schools and divisions by one week—to January 10, 2022,” and shifting to “a remote-only instructional format” for the first two weeks, with a return in-person instruction on Jan. 24.

[RELATED: Campus workers union demands return to remote learning, adoption of stricter COVID guidelines]

video of the protest posted to Twitter shows students gathered with signs that expressed their COVID-related concerns.

Signs seen on video include the messages “We want safer schools!” and “CPS listen to us,” another sign says.

On the other hand, many UChicago students oppose the university for another reason: the booster mandate.

The university also announced on its website that it will “require students and employees to receive a COVID-19 booster shot once they are eligible.”

“By January 31, 2022, students and employees will need to submit proof of receiving a booster shot or apply for an approved exemption.”

In a recent editorial by the Chicago Thinker, students argued against the mandate.

“This booster mandate is demonstrably unsafe, ineffective, unnecessary, inconsistent, and unethical,” reads the editorial. “We’ve struggled beneath UChicago’s draconian COVID decrees for years, but the university’s booster mandate reaches a new height of absurdity.”

“If being ‘boosted’ becomes a prerequisite for participation in normal life, the vaccine’s diminishing efficacy means the booster campaign will never end.”

[RELATED: Student requests U Chicago investigate campus organization’s ties to the CCP]

“We are also concerned about the fact that the university hasn’t committed to returning in person on their stated date of the 24th, and that a complete return to online learning after a completely in-person quartet in Autumn might adversely affect the mental health of many,” a spokesperson from the UChicago College Republicans told Campus Reform. 

“Everyone I have talked to is upset about going online. We think it is unnecessary at this point,” the spokesperson said. 

Students are not the only ones speaking out against the school’s restrictions. 

Professor Rachel Fulton Brown of UChicago recently wrote an open letter to the school urging it to “SAVE OUR SCHOOL.”

“The mainstream narrative is starting to shift. We are going to lose our brand if it shifts and we are not in front of it. WE are the University of Chicago,” Fulton Brown wrote. WE ask the Big Questions and risk being out on the edge of scientific research. WE are the scholars who do not simply follow the trends, but set them.”

“PLEASE. SAVE OUR SCHOOL. THIS IS UP TO YOU. Trust me, I have been on the receiving end of protests from our alumni. They don’t pull punches,” the letter concludes.

 “Two years ago, it made sense to be cautious, but we now have two years’ worth of experience with this virus,” Fulton Brown told Campus Reform. We know the risks; we have mounting evidence of how early treatments that could have saved 100,000s of lives have been dismissed in favor of policies that only drive hospitalization rates up; we know that these vaccines are not only ineffective in preventing transmission but positively dangerous to the age group on which they are being forced, particularly men of college age.”

“It is time to do what the Great Barrington Declaration says we should have done from the beginning: concentrate on caring for the most vulnerable, while allowing everyone else to get back to school,” Fulton Brown added.

Fulton Brown agrees that online learning has its purpose. However, she argues that “it is not a substitute for the on-campus experience for which we charge our students their tuition and on which we base our claims for excellence.” 

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Chicago and the Chicago Thinker for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.