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Air pollution linked to coal plants more deadly than previously thought; Israel-Hamas truce extends as aid reaches Gaza; high school seniors face big college application challenges.

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House Republicans differ on January 6th footage, Speaker Johnson says any Ukraine funding must include changes to border policy and former New Jersey Governor Christie says former President Trump is fueling anti-Semitism and hate.

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Rural low income youth, especially boys, experience greater economic mobility than those in cities, a new government rule should help level the playing field for small poultry growers, and the Kansas Governor wants her state to expand Medicaid.

Texas University Changes Drug Discipline Policy Amid Suggestion of Racism

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Monday, December 19, 2022   

A fledgling Texas newspaper is claiming credit for a change in policy by the Texas State University System regarding penalties for students found to have illegally possessed, used, sold or distributed drugs, including marijuana.

The year-old Caldwell/Hays Examiner sued the higher education institution in San Marcos to find out the race of students suspended and expelled due to marijuana infractions.

Jordan Buckley, publisher of the paper, said until recently, a student with one drug offense, on or off campus, was subject to discipline ranging from mandatory counseling to expulsion. A second offense meant permanent expulsion. He explained the newspaper believed racism was involved.

"We've heard for a long time in San Marcos that the people being impacted by this policy of 'two strikes and you're expelled' have disproportionately and perhaps exclusively been people of color," Buckley reported.

Texas State previously told Austin's KXAN-TV it does not comment on active litigation. But during a meeting last month, the Board of Regents eliminated the second offense of expulsion from the system's policy.

In the November election, nearly 82% of San Marcos voters approved decriminalizing marijuana possession within the city limits.

Buckley noted the Caldwell/Hays Examiner sued after the school refused to provide requested information, citing students' privacy. He believes the policy change enacted by the Board of Regents is a successful example of grassroots organizing to expose systemic racism.

"It's also, I think, a victory for journalism and for the Open Records Act," Buckley asserted. "The university refused to comply with the Open Records Act and we pressed on."

The newspaper serves Hayes and Caldwell counties, an area between Austin and San Antonio.

Disclosure: The Rural Democracy Initiative contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment, Health Issues, Rural/Farming, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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