TODAY'S QUESTION: Should the students involved in the cotton ball incident be readmitted to MU?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 10:17 a.m. CDT; updated 12:39 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two MU students arrested following the Feb. 26 cotton ball incident at MU’s Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center were charged Monday with littering.

Following the arrest of Zachary Tucker, 21, and Sean Fitzgerald, 19, MU Police classified the incident as a hate crime, which is a Class D felony and carries a sentence of up to four years.

Instead, the students — who have been suspended from the university and placed on an interim leave of absence from the Naval ROTC program — were charged with littering, a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum one-year sentence or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

In Missouri, a hate crime is defined as a crime “motivated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or disability of the victim or victims.”

Kevin O’Brien, Fitzgerald’s attorney, said Monday that the students must complete community service requirements and several other tasks to help their chances of being readmitted to MU in the fall. A sentencing hearing will take place April 29.

Should the students be readmitted to MU? What should they have to do to be readmitted? Should they have been charged for a hate crime?


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Carl Kabler April 21, 2010 | 9:22 p.m.

What mindless twittery, this story is idiotic, not faulting the reporting of it by the Missourian, but rather that so much was made of this even on national media. Good lord people don't we have enough REAL problems going on in the world to foucus on, why take this grade school prank and attempt to make it into a FELONY!!! What's next, is little Johnny going to be charged with armed criminal action because he put a tack in teachers chair?

I think the littering charge is valid, anything more definately overkill,these two appear to have simply acted on a level one wouldn't expect from someone in college (IF it was really done to demean anyone, haven't seen the evidence), but perhaps this is now apparent to them, and the lesson has been learned. I think I am much more concerned rather with the incredible knee jerk reaction and sensationalism that is apparent here in people that make mountains out of moles hills, IMHO.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 22, 2010 | 5:37 a.m.

Whether the two students are readmitted is up to MU's administration (and might also involve a decision by System management). Are we going to run our primary state university by popular opinion?

Those from the other three campuses of this so-called "system" have been impressed by both the "cotton ball incident" and how it has been handled by the local press. We have realized for years that we are totally lacking in sophistication, but now we've been given an example of what sophistication truly means. Thank you. :)

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