Five Western students suing the university over its vaccination warrants are asking the court to order the destruction of all past and present vaccination records.
During Monday morning’s three-hour hearing, Judge Kelly Tranquilli heard arguments from student attorney Lisa Bildy and Western University attorneys Nadia Effendi and Christine Muir. Bildy and his clients are seeking a permanent injunction to stop the university from requiring students to provide proof of their vaccination status as well as an order for the university to dispose of all personal vaccination information, whether they are legal or not at the time of collection.
This destruction of immunization information would include COVID-19 immunization records submitted for the 2022-23 school year, as well as immunization records submitted for the 2021-22 school year.
The five students — Simon Hawke, fourth-year neuroscience, Tiana Gleason, first-year law, Michael Puzzo, third-year criminology, James Donalds, first-year nursing, and Ashante Camara, third-year social science — papers served at Western on September 6. The school announced an updated vaccination policy Aug. 22, requiring all students to receive at least one booster of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1. Western has since extended its deadline for students to submit their reminder information is January 9, 2023.
Judge Tranquilli noted at the start of the trial that she had a personal connection to the case — with two family members currently dating Western — but determined she had no legal conflict of interest. Neither party objected to his presidency.
The court determines whether Western has the authority to collect and store student immunization information and whether that data is necessary to enforce the school’s immunization policy, or whether it violates the Freedom of Information Act and the Protection of private life.
Bildy argued that the late announcement of the vaccination policy forced students into “forced disclosure” of their vaccination status and that Western’s delayed deadline to submit proof of vaccination “undermined” the urgency and the need for vaccination policy. She also argued that an institution like a university is for educational purposes only, not to create vaccine mandates, and that the university was an exception in its policy.
The university refuted this argument, noting that post-secondary institutions do many things beyond education. Effendi and Muir also noted that fewer than 20 people at Western have access to student vaccination information.
The university’s defense cited several post-secondary institutions in Ontario collecting some form of vaccination information this fall, including Carleton University, Ontario University of Art and Design and Metropolitan University. of Toronto. Western is the only university in the province to mandate booster doses, although many others mandate double vaccination.
Western argued that the school has full policy-making power on campus and argued that if the court were to side with the students, it “would put itself in Western’s policy-making shoes.” “.
The school added that it consulted with many medical officials and researchers in the process of creating their policy, with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Kieran Moore ‘wholeheartedly’ supporting the vaccination policies. against COVID-19, according to the affidavit of Jane O-Brien, assistant vice president of human resources at Western.
Both sides argued that a decision for this matter was needed as soon as possible, with Tranquilli agreeing that the matter had his full attention. No date has been set for a final decision.