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Expelling college students not a realistic option in Oklahoma

College administrators need to have the ability to expel students in cases of extreme behavior, OSU officials say.
by Kathryn McNutt Modified: November 17, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: November 17, 2013

Extreme bad behavior on a college campus will get a student suspended, but not expelled.

And that leaves a lot of people scratching their heads and asking why, said Lee Bird, vice president for student affairs at Oklahoma State University.

The answer is found in state law, specifically the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act.

“Under state law, expulsion is not a realistic alternative. It takes too long. It's too cumbersome,” said attorney Andy Lester, who serves on the Board of Regents for OSU and the A&M Colleges. “Suspension can be done very quickly.”

Acting quickly is important when officials want to remove a student for the safety of others.

The process required to expel a college student could take months — even beyond graduation, Lester said.

High school administrators, who aren't covered by the law, can expel students according to their district policies.

The OSU student code of conduct includes a provision for expulsion, but it isn't used.

“There's no bite because there are no teeth,” Lester said. “Our administrators need to have available the tool of expulsion to encourage good conduct and discourage bad conduct.”

Former student Nathan Cochran was suspended from OSU for three years after student conduct hearings in 2012. Cochran pleaded guilty Sept. 20 to three counts of sexual battery in Payne County District Court in connection with the incidents that resulted in his suspension.

After his suspension, people asked why Cochran wasn't expelled.

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by Kathryn McNutt
Higher Education Reporter
Kathryn McNutt covers higher education for The Oklahoman and NewsOK. Since joining the staff in August 2000, she also has worked as the Breaking News editor, Metro editor and assistant Local editor. A native of Oklahoma City, she graduated from...
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