Over 600 colleges and universities are now requiring that their students and/or their faculty and staff be vaccinated against COVID 19 when they show up this fall. But not the UW. That’s just wrong.
When I wrote about this earlier in the summer I speculated that UW System President and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson was resisting a vax mandate because he didn’t want to provoke the wrath of COVID-denying Republicans while the UW’s budget was subject to their tender mercies.
But if that’s what he was thinking — and he says it wasn’t — then it doesn’t matter now anyway. The Republicans short-changed the UW yet again. Gov. Tony Evers proposed a $192 million increase for the system. Robin Vos and the Republicans gave him just $8 million.
So, there’s nothing to be lost — and a lot to be gained — by requiring vaccinations. The state’s largest private school, Marquette, is requiring it as is the University of Indiana System among many other large state systems. I pick out IU because, you may have noticed, Indiana is a deep red state. But Thompson has a governor and a board of regents that would certainly back him up, even if Republican legislators didn’t — and given what they did to him in the budget, what else could they do?
Instead of a requirement, Thompson is using incentives. His latest plan is a lottery to give scholarships to a handful of students on any campus that gets to a 70% vaccination rate. His idea is to spur an inter-campus rivalry that will be aided and abetted by campuses offering their own incentives to get stuck. If he won’t do a mandate, I guess his incentive plan is better than nothing.
But with the Delta variant running rampant now, especially among the young and unvaxed, there seems to be a greater need than ever to go straight to a simple requirement. Get vaccinated or stay home.
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