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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

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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