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Keep Community at Columbia Bible College

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Columbia Bible College staff, faculty, alumni, students, parents of students, and community supporters.

We write to you today as current students who are becoming increasingly concerned about Columbia Bible College’s willingness to breach our essential human rights, privacy rights, medical autonomy, segregate our community, and participate in coercing students to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

On August 24 Columbia issued a statement to the students indicating that vaccinations will be required for on campus residence, and that they will be following any and all public health directives. It as been indicated by public health that access to campus activities, events, athletics and dining spaces will likely be restricted for those who are unvaccinated. Other universities have already implemented these types of measures. This is discrimination and will lead to the segregation of a population of the Columbia community.

While you may argue “vaccination is not a matter of faith, and we are simply respecting our government” we stand together stating that because vaccination has become something that separates and segregates the Christian community it very much becomes a matter that demands the notice of Christian leaders. While honouring and respecting the government is important, we are also called to follow the kingdom of God; a kingdom that is not discriminatory against non-faith related issues. A central tenant of the Christian faith from the beginning is that there is to be no division among the community on matters that are not critical to Christian theology (Gal. 3:28). We are called to stand together in love, and support one another in our faith journeys (1 Thess. 5:11). As a Christian college you recognize the importance of this calling. A calling to a Christ-centred, community focused, and world impacting community has been realized in the foundations of Columbia Bible College. We don’t want this community and this calling to be compromised by the decisions being made.

As Christians we believe that the body is a temple of the Lord (1 Cor. 6:19), and that we are to draw wisdom from God, not leaning on our own understanding (Jm. 1:15). Caring about discovering the truth is fundamental, and doing so in sensitivity to the Spirit is critical to approaching non-dogmatic matters of the Christian life (1 Cor. 6:12; 2 Cor 1:12). There are many members of the Columbia community who may choose not the be vaccinated due to matters of conscience, health, or other concerns. Bodily autonomy is a God-given gift, and we believe that it is crucial to not cause our brother and sisters in Christ within the Columbia community to stumble in their conscience due to our condemnation or coercion; realizing that Jesus is the Lord of our conscience and that we seek to surrender our body, soul, mind, and strength to him alone (Rom. 14:13-23; Matt. 22:36-38). We believe that freedom to conscience is a Biblical reality, and that we are to submit to the Kingdom of God above all else (Jn. 8:36; Gal. 5:1; 1 Pet. 2:16). The freedom to act upon matters of conscience has long been supported by our Mennonite forefathers who left totalitarian regimes and stood peacefully against measures that restricted the rights of others.

Among the average college age student (20-29) from March 2020 to August 20, 2021 there have been only 67 deaths across Canada. While the pandemic has been built upon case numbers, risk is most accurately assessed through the death rate due to the high recovery rate from Covid-19.

This is to be contrasted against statistics for university age students released by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from December 2020-July 16 2021 which records:

- 48 Reported Deaths

- 620 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation)

- 88 heart attacks

- 263 reports of blood clotting disorders

It has been historically and generally accepted that these reported deaths and injuries only account for no more than 10% of the actual deaths and injuries. By highlighting this in our letter we hope to open your eyes to the reality that taking the vaccination is a decision with risk, therefore personal choice is a MUST.

To demand that students be vaccinated in order to live on campus and/or participate fully in community life is to violate the full protections of personal choice to undergo medical interventions (of which a vaccine is classified) without any elements of force, coercion, or overreach in their decision. Undoubtedly Columbia’s decision to mandate vaccination for on-campus living and potentially for full participation in the community presents a form of coercion for students who may not have wanted to be vaccinated due to various concerns.

By coercing and incentivizing the vaccination, Columbia violates medical and legal ethics of medical autonomy and express informed consent to medical procedures. Students deserve the right to make medical decisions for their own body without consequences of social and community exclusion.

These rights are protected under:

- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) 37 Section 2a, 2b, 7, 8, 9, 15.

- Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005) 38

- Nuremberg Code (1947) 39

- Helsinki Declaration (1964, Revised 2013)40 Article 25, 26

As students, regardless of opinions on the vaccine, we believe that it is wrong to create division between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. It is wrong to ask members of our community to not participate in community life because of a medical decision they have made for their own bodies. To do so is to create two different “classes” of students and to discriminate against the unvaccinated in restricting their community involvement. Columbia does not have any right to inquire, collect, record or require protected and private medical information or treatment, and is specifically prohibited, by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) under section 2(1) by which the college is bound to respect personal information, including medical information. To require disclosure of information concerning whether a student has or has not received a medical treatment constitutes an unjust invasion of privacy under FIPPA section 21(3).

As students who love the Columbia community we are respectfully asking that this division is discontinued. We ask that Columbia does not partake in the coercion or participate in the recommending, facilitating, and incentivizing of the vaccination to insist that students partake in vaccination as a condition of on campus living and community participation. We ask for nondisclosure of this personal medical information to prevent discrimination and protect the privacy of members in our community. While much of this has been done in the guise of “protecting our community” it has the potential to tear the community apart by dividing and segregating the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

Columbia will be put on personal and legal notice through Notices of Liability if these actions continue. A Notice of Liability is not an instigation of legal action in itself but advises CBC of the ramifications of their own policies.

.** Note: There is clarification of what this entails on our website. We have received some responses from students who may not have fully understood the intent of our letter, which has prompted a statement of clarification **

We are more than happy to engage in conversation with the community and any Columbia staff, faculty and students surrounding this issue.

Call to Action: Regardless of where you stand on beliefs about the vaccination, if you want to see the Columbia community unified and build a non-discriminatory community that upholds our God-given rights to bodily autonomy, please

1) Sign our Petition

2) Contact CBCstands@protonmail.com to show your support.

3) Check out our website for updates and further statements from CBC Stands Student Coalition: https://cbcstands.wixsite.com/website

4) If you a student or alumni of CBC, and want to join us, you can find us on Facebook under 'CBC Stands Student Coalition'

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