The passage of House Bill 1173 through the House Education Committee is alarming, but we think it doesn’t have a chance to make it into law.
This bill would make students convicted of rioting offenses ineligible for financial aid and in-state tuition for 12 months.
Rep. Don Lee, R-28, wrote the bill to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Students can already face consequences from both their campuses and local law enforcement for rioting, and riots don’t occur very often. This is a minor issue that Lee and his ilk are exploiting to gain political capital while avoiding more controversial, and certainly more important, topics.
We at the Collegian understand how harmful rioting can be, and in no way do we support students who decide to represent our community in violent ways. However, we believe the penalties a student can face from the law for rioting are stiff enough.
Taking away students’ in-state tuition may force them to drop out of school. By eliminating a student’s opportunity for an education, this only promotes more negative feelings that could lead to more negative behavior like rioting.
Will financial aid and in-state tuition be taken away from the people who start the riot, the kid who was caught in the middle, or both? Some cases might become a story of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If passed, the bill would also be very difficult to enforce. The district attorney in each judicial district is responsible for giving the names of convicted rioters to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. These names are made available to institutions of higher education, and it is up to the schools to decide what disciplinary action is taken. This gives university employees extra work that they surely do not need.
We at the Collegian are very surprised that this bill made it through the house Education Committee, but we have faith the House or Senate will kill it.
Instead of wasting their time on this ridiculous bill, state politicians should focus on the important issues facing Colorado.