If approved, new law would allow colleges to expel students convicted of rioting

An Oregon lawmaker wants a new law to give schools the ability to expel students caught rioting.

Republican State Sen. Kim Thatcher’s Senate Bill 540 would require Oregon community colleges and state universities to expel students convicted of riot crimes.

The ACLU calls the proposal inconsistent with Oregon values.

“Something like riot is broad and open to interpretation,” said Matt Dos Santos, with the Oregon chapter of the ACLU.

His organization is watching the legislation closely.

"There are already existing penalties for things like vandalism or violence and we're also now trying to strip away people's rights to go to school?" said Dos Santos.

Students are also concerned, especially at a campus as socially active as Portland State University, where a protest Thursday night against a police shooting and killing last week of a 17-year-old boy. Police said Quanice Hayes was a robbery suspect who turned out to have been armed with a fake gun.

“I think that it should be the duty of the college to decide who gets to attend and who gets kicked out,” said Tyler Miller, a PSU student.

“And I think that that’s wrong, and they shouldn’t feel afraid to speak their minds if they want to,” said Vanessa Rodgers, a PSU student.

Still, anyone who’s seen Portland protests the last few months has realized there are always several elements involved.

“There are some people who are out there to air their political grievances,” said Aaron Sherman, a PSU student. “This is America, this is a democracy, that’s what it’s all about, and there are some people who use it as an opportunity to act out and commit violence. And I don’t think pairing those two is necessarily fair; however, I do think the people who act out should be punished.”

Lawmakers hope this bill would do just that.

Thatcher is a PSU graduate and her office told KATU she has protested in the past. It said she wants to emphasize that her bill only targets students convicted of riot crimes under Oregon law.

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