Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to Southern Oregon University students who are spending their spring break this week volunteering with service organizations in Portland and the Lost Valley Education Center in Dexter. Rather than spend their week off traveling or celebrating with friends, 15 SOU students signed up for an alternative spring break sponsored by the university's Civic Engagement Center. The Portland group is working with service organizations that benefit domestic and wild animals. The Dexter group is doing landscaping and beautification work while learning about sustainable living and permaculture.

Jeers — to a cynical ploy by some Republican lawmakers in Salem to make Democrats look bad by proposing a costly benefit to a potentially large number of out-of-state college students.

The lawmakers opposed a tuition-equity bill enacted last week that allows in-state tuition rates for Oregon students who are in the country illegally.

State university officials say the impact on the state university system will be negligible because few such students will be able to afford even in-state tuition.

Some Republicans responded by proposing that all veterans, from any state, be granted in-state tuition rights. Extending that rate to non-Oregonians — Oregon veterans already qualify for in-state rates — could potentially cost far more. Beyond that, this is an obvious "gotcha" bill, using veterans as the pawns, that's intended to make any opponent look bad.

Cheers — to Ashland High School senior Sarah Honeywell, who expressed her gratitude to Oregon Health & Science University's Knight Cancer Institute by playing her violin for patients on the ward where her brother was treated for leukemia. Her brother is now in remission. Honeywell made it her senior project to give back to the hospital by sharing her skills on the violin, which she has played since for 13 years.

Cheers — to a group of feisty neighbors who took matters into their own hands when a carload of teenagers was speeding up and down their Rogue River street. The neighbors, led by Dee Dee Johnson, stopped the vehicle and surrounded it while waiting for police to arrive. The tongue-lashing they gave the driver and her passengers apparently had its effect; the driver expressed remorse for driving unsafely down a dead-end street where children play, and said it wouldn't happen again. Her father, who responded to the scene as well, offered his apology, too.

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