The ASUCD and a coalition of student organizations and labor unions have called UC Davis students to gather on the Quad for a campuswide protest on Nov. 18 at noon against the possible tuition hike. Event coordinators expect upwards of 1,500 students to participate.
The action is a response to University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano’s proposed Long-Term Stability Plan, which implies a five percent rise in tuition fees annually for all UC undergraduate and graduate students over the next five years. This would likely raises tuition to $15,564 tuition by the academic year of 2019-20 (compared to the current amount of $12,192). The UC Board of Regents will consider the Long-Term Stability Plan during its meeting at UC San Francisco Mission Bay Campus on Wednesday.
“We oppose the tuition hike because education is a right and it should not be cost-prohibitive,” said Harvey Litzelman, director of the ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation, a second-year sociology major and one of the organizers of the UC Davis protest action. He argued that according to the California Master Plan for Higher Education from 1960, higher education should be free for all in-state residents.
“Given the upcoming tuition increases, we are seeing just how dissociated from that promise our Regents and our administrators are,” Litzelman said. “We will not accept this norm of not only a costly education, but an education that requires a massive commitment and sacrifice [from] the students’ families.”
Andy Fell, a spokesman for UC Davis, explained that the tuition hike is necessary due to the declined state funding over the past few years. He said that the intent of the proposed plan is to provide long-term stability to UC’s tuition and financial aid:
“The proposed plan [is] to ensure that the UCs can continue to be excellent, but still affordable and accessible, by providing various programs for low-income students,” Fell said. “Right now, 55 percent of all California undergraduate students pay no tuition fees at all — this will continue under the new plan.”
In a joint statement, the UC chancellors expressed their full support of the Long-Term Stability Plan, arguing that it is “predictable and fair” and allows families to plan ahead. They said that the plan would enable the UCs to enroll at least 5,000 more California students over the next five years.
The plan follows a four-year tuition freeze period, during which UC administrators developed a long-term funding plan in response to reduced state support. Despite cost-saving efforts, the UC sees itself unable to meet long-term funding needs for investments in academic quality and faculty.
State funds for UC were cut by nearly $1 billion during the course of the recession. The UC Office of the President made clear that the proposed five percent increases should be considered as a ceiling, meaning that, depending on the future level of state funding, charges may increase by a smaller amount or remain flat during the next five years.
Other UC campuses will also hold similar events tomorrow. Litzelman insisted that the university needs to prioritize affordability by reigning in its various programs and administrative costs.
“The UC is focusing on its grandiose ego at a cost that is prohibitive to students. That is unacceptable,” he said. “We will rally, we will march, we will occupy. We will make ourselves be heard.”