Amid student protests, the UC Board of Regents concluded its UCLA meeting by voting to increase student fees by 32 percent. They also passed a budget that leads up to 2011.
In a 20-1 vote, the UC Regents approved the fee hike. Student Regent Jesse Bernal cast the sole opposing vote.
UC President Mark Yudof said while he understood the anger directed at the decision, the permanent increase in student fees would balance the system’s budget.
“We all have to be realists,” Yudof said. “At the end of the day, we can’t talk this problem to death and we can’t talk it out of existence. We don’t have the money.”
As the regents conducted their meeting, students at UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Davis continued their third day of protest against the student fee increases.
On Friday, students and others barricaded themselves on the second floor of UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall. After an eleven-hour occupation, 41 demonstrators were arrested by police.
“To the best of my knowledge, there were very limited if any discussions,” said UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof, in an interview with KCBS. “It was really an all-or-nothing position taken vis-à-vis their demands, and we didn’t have the ability or the inclination to meet those demands, particularly under duress.”
According to UCLA’s student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, a crowd of 2,000 people protested in front of Covel Commons and around the UCLA campus. Thirty to 50 protestors locked themselves inside Campbell Hall early Thursday morning.
“We are under no illusions,” said one student protestor in a released statement. “The UC Regents will vote the budget cuts and raise student fees. But we also know that the enormity of the problem is just as often an excuse for doing nothing. We chose to fight back, to resist where we find ourselves, the place we live and work, our university.”
In addition to the student fee increases, Yudof also hopes to attain $913 million in state funds. Regent Karen Bass, who is also the Speaker of the state Assembly, said that one way to raise these funds would be through higher taxes.
However, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey, 40 percent of those surveyed said they would support taxes to make up for the student fee increases.
The regents also voted to reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital. In the plan, the UC will not be financially responsible for the project. Instead, Los Angeles County will provide over $400 million in start-up costs and $63 million in operational funding.
“This is truly like a phoenix rising in the midst of Los Angeles,” said UC Regent Monica Lozano. “We will stand with great pride with the residents of South Los Angeles when this hospital is reopened.”
MLK hospital was opened in 1972 but closed in 2007, leaving 600,000 in the South Los Angeles region without access to a hospital.
The regents also named Paul Alivisatos director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Alivisatos replaces Steven Chu, who became the U.S. Secretary of Energy in January 2009.
The regents appointed Alivisatos as Berkeley lab’s interim director in January 2009. According to a UC press release, the laboratory obtained more than $220 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act during Alivisatos’ management.
LESLIE TSAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.