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U of M regents to take on anti-riot policy

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- A subcommittee of University of Minnesota regents on Thursday endorsed a get-tough policy with the power to expel students who riot off-campus over events connected to the university.

The policy was expected to be adopted by the full board during a meeting Friday and would take immediate effect. It would not be retroactive.

If adopted, the university would become the second Big Ten school to have such a rule.

Previously, students could be disciplined only for on-campus behavior.

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The anti-riot policy is a reaction to the violence on and off campus after the Gophers men's hockey team won the national championship in April.

An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people gathered on or near campus, setting fires, destroying cars, breaking windows and looting a liquor store. The riot, the second in two years to follow a hockey championship, caused an estimated $150,000 in damage to the Twin Cities campus and thousands more in surrounding neighborhoods.

University officials were angry and embarrassed by the melee. On Thursday, none of the six regents on the committee spoke against the policy.

"Going to the University of Minnesota is not a right, it's a privilege," Regent David Metzen said. "Privileges can be taken away."

The policy prohibits students from inciting or participating in a riot on campus, near campus or in any location when the riot is a reaction to a university-sponsored event. Behavior that could lead to discipline includes damaging property, stealing and looting, setting fires, throwing bottles, resisting arrest, threatening violence, obstructing traffic and refusing to leave when asked to by authorities.

"I think this is all about building a sense of community and the sense that such behavior is intolerable," said Robert Bruininks, university president.

Michigan State is the only other Big Ten school with a policy that disciplines students for off-campus riots.

Twelve students who took part in the April 12-13 riot were charged with disciplinary violations under the student conduct code. Possible penalties range from probation and restitution to expulsion. One student has already been expelled.

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