The November UC Regents meeting was held Monday via teleconference, with regents present at UC Davis, UCSF, UCLA and UC Merced campuses. The regents discussed recent police violence on campuses and possible tuition hikes.
Each campus involved in the meeting was open to the public as students and faculty voiced their concern after the board members’ opening remarks. The separated gatherings were linked through a four-way teleconference call, and a live web stream was available for viewing online.
Only student Regent Alfredo Mireles, student Regent-Designate Jonathan Stein and non-voting, ex-officio Regent John Pérez were present at the UC Davis campus.
Through a negotiation with many people involved with the meeting, police presence was reduced due to the fact that only Mireles, Stein and Pérez were on campus. Many felt that heightened police presence would be detrimental considering the campus climate.
“I wish more regents could have been there, but I was really happy with the very minimal police presence,” Mireles said.
The meeting began with opening remarks by UC Regents Chair Sherry Lansing.
“We cannot change the past but we can change how we act in the future,” said Lansing, in reference to the acts of police violence at the UC Davis and Berkeley campuses.
The regents meeting was originally scheduled for Nov. 16 and 17, but was rescheduled due to fear for student safety, Lansing said.
Lansing stated that former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton will head up an independent investigation of the events that took place at UC Davis and UC Berkeley and that Chancellor Katehi has asked the District Attorney to drop all charges against the students arrested during the UC Davis pepper spray incident.
Lansing also noted that many of the current board members have participated in peaceful social movements in the past and that they serve on the board “without any compensation.”
UC President Mark Yudof also made an opening speech.
“We have worked very hard to keep our costs down,” Yudof said. “We can expand the footprint of this university and not contract it.”
Yudof said he is asking the state for a partial restoration to the $3.2 billion high point in state funding.
During the public comment session, people at each of the four campuses were allowed to talk via the teleconference. Five speakers from each campus were allowed to speak at a time. The public comment section of the meeting was ultimately extended a half an hour longer by Lansing, as many students and community members came out to speak.
Student and staff repeated the message that they would like to see less talking and more action toward the regents during the open forum.
Ian Lee, a first-year student at UC Davis who was pepper sprayed earlier this month, said that the regents were to blame for shifting university funds to capital and private investment.
Another student from Davis, who identified herself as Robin, expressed anger at the regents meeting cancelled last week.
“We are not interested in the false dialogue of the UC Regents,” she said.
A speaker from UCLA said, “I want to know why a police officer working in public education makes more than many professors,” after quoting Lt. Pike’s salary at $100,000.
UC Students Association President Claudia Magana concluded the public comments.
She said the regents need to do a better job holding meetings on different campuses and allowing for student comment, and that she hopes they will follow through with the meeting planned for January.
“We stand in solidarity with UC Berkeley and UC Davis,” she said.
Lansing proposed a joint effort march in Sacramento in January with students to request more funding from the state.
UC President Yudof spoke next, announcing that former California Supreme Court Justice and current UC Davis law professor emeritus Cruz Reynoso will be the Chair of the UC task force addressing the Nov. 18 pepper spray incident.
“We will do our best to listen to suggestions from students today,” he said.
Public comment ended around 11:30 a.m., when the meeting was set to move into a discussion of the UC Regents Committee on Finance. The meeting was to continue being broadcast, but was closed to public comment.
Over the speakers, another campus could be heard using the microphone to ask that the budget discussion be made open to public comment. An unknown regent responded that it would be best to put any questions into writing.
During the meeting, the regents called for reinvestment in university quality, including increased graduate student support, increased class options and more faculty.
To fund this, they proposed an enrollment growth of one percent. They also said that a $2.3 billion increase in funds from the state would prevent a further increase in tuition.
After about 15 minutes of the Finance Committee meeting, students gathered inside the ARC Ballroom and suggested that the meeting be open for public comment.
Unacknowledged by the regents, students proposed to move to the front of the room and requested that the speakers broadcasting the regents meeting be turned down.
Through the speakers, listeners could hear a similar student gathering at UCLA interrupting the meeting taking place there.
Chancellor Katehi joined this new meeting, which was called the “People’s Regents Meeting,” for a few minutes before the regents continued their original meeting in another room.
Stein and Mireles remained at the People’s Regents Meeting.
“I really felt like I was able to understand the Occupy Movement by being able to talk with them while they were holding their meeting,” Mireles said.
One participant in the people’s meeting, senior international agricultural development major Bryndan Stueve, said that he believed a valuable opportunity was lost by overriding the UC Regent meeting.
“We need to have dialogue with the regents and engage them, rather than ignore them. What we’re doing today is almost counter-productive,” he said. “…We are in a difficult position because we need to embed ourselves in the system and also maintain credibility in the eyes of the regents,” Stueve said.
Several students responded that the regents chose to leave the ballroom and isolate themselves.
Stein was present for the people’s meeting and faced pressure to sign the students’ pledge.
“I am the strongest supporter for the principles that underlie that pledge. I’m not refusing to sign the pledge, but actively doing advocacy on behalf of your positions,” Stein said.
Nick Perrone, a graduate student in history and an active voice in the meeting, said that he refused to work with the regents.
“I will not walk with that woman,” he said, in reference to Lansing. “We are way past working with the regents.”
A junior UC Berkeley student, Alex Kravitz, made two proposals at the meeting: to require UC Regents to hold office hours on UC campuses and to have UC student body presidents be designated as liaisons between students and the regents.
Mireles said that he was glad that students had a chance to have their voices heard by the UC Regents.
“I was really inspired. I think today might have been my favorite day as a regent thus far. We got to hear students speak to us for over an hour and a half…. Today we got to hear from dozens and dozens of students from all different campuses,” Mireles said.
HANNAH STRUMWASSER contributed to this article. FREEMAN, RUSSER and STRUMWASSER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.