The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has upheld Western University’s controversial booster vaccine mandate.

On Saturday, Justice Kelly Tranqulli dismissed the challenge by five students and found that Western officials are “expressly permitted to govern its affairs,” defending their right to impose a mandate even in the absence of a provincial mandate.

According to the National Post, the lawyer for the students Lisa Bildy argued in court that because the province’s Covid-19 vaccine policies have been repealed, the university was not authorized to ask for the vaccination status of staff and students.

Bildy also argued Western lacked the authority to collect data from students and staff under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act, and that the university’s booster mandate fell outside of its core directive, which they claim is to provide post-secondary education.

Lawyers for Western argued that the school had powers under the Univesity of Western Ontario Act and that implementing its mandate is a “lawfully authorized activity.”

Justice Tranquilli sided with Western’s lawyers.

“Based upon the broad wording of Western’s enabling statute, and the process that Western followed in promulgating its COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, I am satisfied the university has demonstrated that the policy is a ‘lawfully authorized activity,’” the decision said.

“That the province no longer requires Western to impose a vaccine mandate, or that Western is reportedly the only university in Ontario to impose such a mandate, is of no consequence. Western is expressly permitted to govern its affairs.”

In September, Western University delayed the implementation of its booster mandate, and gave students, staff and visitors until next year to provide proof of vaccination before attending campus.

The university originally imposed an Oct. 1 deadline, though it’s now been pushed back by more than three months to Jan. 9, the beginning of the winter term.

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