The UC Regents meeting was held last Wednesday in Sacramento for the first time since 1993. Usually organized at campus locations, the meeting was transferred to the Sacramento Convention Center in order to rally government support for the financially debilitated university system.
Among other issues, the Regents discussed an impending six percent tuition increase for all students if voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax initiative.
Annual costs for an in-state UC student have doubled to around $30,000 since 2007 and a six percent fee increase would add $732 to that total. UC would need $125 million of state funding to prevent recourse to another round of fee hikes and university officials urged legislators to consider this alternative.
“There has been some interest by the governor’s office in buying out the tuition increase,” said Daniel Dooley, UC senior vice president for external relations. “We’re going to fight like crazy for that.”
Californians will be able to vote on Gov. Brown’s tax initiative this November when the proposal goes on the ballot.
The Regents also confirmed the appointment of UC San Diego’s new chancellor, Pradeep K. Khosla. Khosla, who will replace Marye Anne Fox on Aug. 1, was the former Dean of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Controversy surrounds Khosla’s $411,084 salary, which represents a 4.8 percent increase from his predecessor’s pay. The UC administration is facing criticism for raising executive salaries amid continued budget cuts.
Only Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Student Regent Alfredo Mireles, Jr. voted against the compensation package for the new chancellor.
“What we are asking for is a crackdown on the mismanagement itself in the form of high executive pays, in the form of increasing and relentless tuition hikes,” said Cheryl Deutsch, a UCLA graduate student speaking during the public comments period.
The meeting was interrupted by a more theatrical expression of protest as a group of approximately twenty students dressed as inmates marched and chanted during the morning session.
“That’s the sound of the students working on the chain gang,” protesters chanted.
Dressed in luminescent orange costumes, these students represented condemned inmates “sentenced to debt” by the recent fee hikes.
Similar disruptions in the past were met with police response to remove the protestors from the meeting. This time, however, the protesters were allowed to continue chanting while the regents adjourned the open session and retreated to the closed segment of the meeting, away from the public.
The Regents’ next meeting will take place from July 17 to 19 at UC San Francisco, Mission Bay.
JUSTIN ABRAHAM can be reached at email@example.com.