UC students protest fee hikes, crackdowns at regents meeting

6:48 PM, Nov 28, 2011   |    comments
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Video: UC students lament rising tuition

  • UC Davis regents teleconference

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (BCN) - Dozens of University of California students, employees and others spoke at a Board of Regents meeting held via teleconference at four UC campuses today, sharply criticizing rising tuition costs as well as recent police actions in Davis and Berkeley.

UC staff and students spoke via teleconference at four campuses -- Davis, Los Angeles, Merced and UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus.

The meeting, which had initially been scheduled for earlier this month, was postponed until Monday because of "credible intelligence" that violence was possible at the previous meeting, which was to take place in San Francisco, university officials said.

The perceived threat followed criticism that UC Berkeley police were overly aggressive in responding to "Occupy Cal" protests on Nov. 9. The outrage over police tactics grew when several students were pepper-sprayed while peacefully protesting at UC Davis on Nov. 18.

Monday, Board of Regents chair Sherry Lansing said she was "personally shocked and appalled" at the police actions and said the meeting was held jointly at the four campuses "to give the UC community an even greater opportunity to be heard."

UC President Mark Yudof said at the start of the meeting that he is calling for the partial restoration of funding for the system in the state Legislature's next budget negotiations.

"We're asking Sacramento to increase our state funding from current $2.3 billion to about 2.7 billion and this is critically important," Yudof said.

Lt. Gavin Newsom, who is on the board, said state cuts have led to the doubling of tuition at UC campuses since 2008-09.

"I think students were clear that they wanted new revenue measures because we're tired of getting cuts," said student regent Alfredo Mireles. "I think students were clear that there's no more room for tuition increases. If you take a senior in college right now, they've seen their tuition go up over $5,000 in their four years at UC."

About 150 people at the four campuses signed up to speak during a nearly two-hour public comment period. Between 50 and 75 were allowed in the room where UC Davis was holding the teleconference.

Charlie Eaton, financial secretary for United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents about 12,000 UC teaching assistants, tutors and other staff, was one of about two dozen people to speak at the San Francisco campus.

Eaton criticized what he called "the actions of the financial and corporate elite on the board" to raise tuition costs.

He said police then responded to protesters at universities by "having us beaten, having us pepper sprayed and having us arrested."

"The buck stops with you ... and it's time for you to pay," Eaton said.

The crowd at the San Francisco meeting tried to prolong the public comment period with chants, and the regents took a recess at 11:40 a.m.

The meeting continued with discussion of alternative funding sources beyond tuition from students and taxpayer support and approval of an expenditure plan for the upcoming budgetary year.

At Davis, student Tabitha Townes said, "I was disappointed, I thought there was a lot of really good concerns voiced by the students and community members and the Regents kind of walked right over it, kind of gave lip service, but they didn't lay out any real way to deal with them."

Nearly 250 students marched and chanted peacefully from the Davis campus quad to the financial office and upstairs where they hoped to shut down the university's business for the day. They were "striking" to express their dissatisfaction with more proposed tuition increases.

Brown letter

Monday, in light of recent police action regarding the UC and Occupy protests, Gov. Brown sent the director of the Peace Officers Standards and Training commission a letter requesting a review of its crowd management and civil disobedience guidelines and to make changes as necessary.

Bay City News and News10/KXTV

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