Parliament protest extends closure of Victoria Uni campus

Source: 1News

Wellington’s Victoria University says the protest against Covid-19 vaccines and mandates in Parliament has led to its decision to extend the temporary closure of one of its campuses until mid-April.

Protesters pitch tents on the grounds of Victoria University's Pipitea Campus.

Vice-chancellor Grant Guilford said the university’s Pipitea campus would be closed to most students until April 11.

“We are disappointed that the protests have created this disruption to our teaching and research and acknowledge the impact this has had on staff and students as they prepare for the start of trimester 1. However, we would also like to express our thanks for the admirable resilience and resourcefulness of our university community,” Guilford said.

First-year classes which would have been held at the Old Government Buildings or Rutherford House, both of which are across Parliament, would now be held at Kelburn campus and online.

Courses for other year levels that would usually be delivered in the buildings would be offered online.

This week, students at the university launched a petition to have the anti-mandate protesters removed from campus.

Ralph Zambrano, president of the student union, told 1News students had a right to access their campus without the risk of harm.

He said he'd spoken with students who reported being spat on by protesters and yelled at for wearing face masks.

"I know this isn't every single protester, some of them are peaceful and they are just speaking to the impacts of Covid-19 on them, but it's that small group of the protesters who are putting our students and our staff members, our community at risk,” Zambrano said.

The petition had collected almost 6000 signatures as of Friday evening.

Earlier on Friday, police said they felt de-escalation was the only safe way to resolve the ongoing occupation on Parliament grounds.