The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approved a scope statement outlining new changes aimed at suspending or expelling students who disrupt free speech at all University of Wisconsin System campuses Oct. 11, but Gov. Tony Evers expressed opposition, according to a Journal Sentinel article.
The approved statement said students who twice disrupt the free speech of other students on campus would face suspension from school for at least one semester. After three disruptions, students would be expelled, according to the Sentinel.
Edmund Manydeeds, whom Evers appointed to the board, said such punishments could be too harsh for young people who are speaking up. He said these records would follow them a long way and may negatively affect their future, according to a Wisconsin Public Radio article.
“I just think it’s a very hard road to go down to police, to punish people that may be young that may be saying things they have a right to say that they may be punished for and may follow them the rest of their lives in a negative way,” Manydeeds said in the article.
Evers’ spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the governor’s opinion on the proposed punishments hasn’t changed since 2017 and he continues to oppose the policy.
Evers was serving as a regent in 2017 when the policy first became relevant due to his position then as state schools superintendent. Evers was also the only board member who voted against the policy, according to the Sentinel.
According to WPR, Regents president Drew Petersen announced his support for the policy.
“To adhere to the state’s procedural requirements as president of the board, I’ll be supporting this item,” Petersen said in the article.
The Journal Sentinel article also said the policy has not gone into effect yet as the Board of Regents has not updated system rules to incorporate the policy.
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The regents plan on holding a public hearing before presenting the final statement to Evers for approval. Evers has veto power and currently there is no mechanism for other legislators to override him, according to the Sentinel.