The University of Wisconsin system’s interim president, Tommy Thompson, said university leaders will put COVID-19 safety protocols in place on campuses without approval from Republican state lawmakers. His statement Tuesday flies in the face of a measure passed earlier this month by the Republican-led rules committee in the Wisconsin Legislature, the Associated Press reported. The measure requires the university system to submit any pandemic-related restrictions, such as mask and testing mandates, to the committee for review by Sept. 2.
Thompson, a former Republican governor who served as health secretary under President George W. Bush, said he was “not going to be intimidated.”
“Even though I don’t want to pick a fight with the Legislature, I’m going to stand my ground,” he told reporters in a briefing. “I’m still a strong Republican. I just put my Republican bona fides aside when I run the university. I’ve got the right and the authority and the responsibility to do what’s necessary to keep the universities open.”
Republican state senator Steve Nass, co-chair of the rules committee, responded to Thompson’s remarks with a threat to pursue “legal action.”
“It is sad that interim President Tommy Thompson has once again shown his belief in big government control over the rights of individuals to make their own health related decisions,” Nass said in a statement.