The UC regents made their decision to increase student fees by 32 percent at 12:45 this afternoon.
However, students, staff and faculty did not lower their protest signs. Instead, they gathered in Mrak Hall to express their stark opposition to the regents’ decision and discuss the impacts of the increases.
Before the demonstration, nearly 300 protestors marched around campus chanting the trademark motto, “Whose university? Our university!” Other students on campus joined the crowd as they marched through Olson Hall, Wellman Hall, the Segundo Dinning Commons, the Activities and Recreation Center and the Sciences Laboratory Building.
“Just by observing [the protestors], I can see that they are really trying to change the situation,” said onlooker Tommy Hoang, a sophomore neurobiology, psychobiology and behavior major. “I think they’re really going to have an impact.”
Many protestors agreed, as they hoped to make an impact that would outlast the regents’ vote.
“If there’s enough pressure, they will find alternate solutions to quell the anguish this is creating,” said one student protestor.
Though the regents have already accounted for the money gained from the fee increases, many disagree that the fee increase was the right decision to make. Some critics cited the growing amounts of construction and research projects the university invested in as a compromise to the values of affordable public education.
“Some of us are missing class today,” said Sergio Blanco, a junior political science major and one of the main leaders of the march. “But we can sacrifice one day for protests. Otherwise we will lose two, three, four years of our education. We don’t want research! We need diversity on this campus.”
Though there were no arrests or injuries at press time, Officer Ralph Nuno said entering buildings like Olson and Wellman disturbed the students who had a right to peacefully learn. He told Blanco and other protestors to not lead students into learning spaces.
Some lecturers and professors reacted negatively to the protestors’ occupation in the lecture halls. One professor came out of class in an attempt to quiet the crowd.
“We have a class going on right now,” the professor told the protestors. “My students are trying to learn. You cannot disrupt us.”
In response, protestors insisted students in classrooms should join the protest.
“Our tuition is rising!” one student shouted back. “You and your students should be out here with us!”
Starting in fall 2010, undergraduate students will pay system-wide fees of $10,302. The fees will generate $117.2 million this year and $291.7 million next academic year. Of that total, $146 million will be reserved for financial aid, according to the regents’ finance committee report.
Of the 26 regents who voted, 25 approved the fee increases. Jesse Bernal, the board’s only student regent, voted against the increases, which will come into effect starting this spring.
“This is the most difficult time and the most difficult vote we’ve gone through,” said Regent Sherry Lansing in a UC press release.
According to the UC newsroom, the budget the full Board of Regents approved includes:
– $637.1 million to bring back faculty hiring, student services and other programs cut.
– $155.8 million to support the 14,000 students currently enrolled but not funded by the state.
– $10.4 million for health science initiatives – $400,000 of which will help fund the incoming class of the UC Davis nursing school.
– $109.8 million to the UC Retirement Plan and retiree health benefit costs.
Regents also approved an extension for the Blue and Gold Plan. The plan will now cover students whose families’ income is under $70,000.
For pictures of today’s protest, visit The California Aggie’s Facebook page.
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at email@example.com.