Student Expulsion Over |Threats, Guns Reversed

     SALEM, Ore. (CN) – Portland State University wrongfully denied a student his due process rights before expelling him for allegedly threatening professors and having guns at his off-campus apartment, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled.
     Henry Liu, a graduate student, was expelled in 2012 after a fellow student reported he had said “I’m about ready to stick a 45 up his ass,” when referring to a faculty member and “he could get shot” about another.
     Officers from PSU Campus Public Safety Office found four guns in his apartment, including a .45 caliber handgun and an M4 “assault-style” rifle, as well as spare magazines, ammunition, knives, and survival and first-aid supplies, including “battlefield dressings.”
     The university held hearings in June 2012, with Liu participating by phone. He was ultimately expelled for violating PSU’s Student Conduct Code.
     Liu said he never threatened any faculty members and was expelled on hearsay.
     He sought judicial review of the decision after an appeal was denied, claiming the expulsion hearings required procedures consistent with contested case procedures under the Administrative Procedures Act.
     The university countered that state law gave it flexibility in fashioning its own procedures in such cases.
     The appeals court rejected that notion, saying Liu had a right to counsel and to cross-examine witnesses.
     “[I]t is undisputable that PSU did not follow the contested case procedures of the APA when it expelled petitioner; PSU acknowledges as much,” wrote Appeals Judge Rex Armstrong for a three-judge panel. “Among other things, petitioner was not allowed to be represented by counsel … cross-examine witnesses, or issue subpoenas, and the testimony of witnesses was not taken by oath or affirmation. Consequently, PSU committed legal error when it expelled petitioner, and we reverse and remand for further proceedings.”

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