Chaos erupts during Univ. of California tuition hike protest
- The University of California Board of Regents committee voted on a five percent tuition increase Wednesday afternoon after several days of student protests.
- Prior to the vote, one UC Berkeley student broke through the locked glass door of the meeting center.
- The student, a 21-year-old male, was detained and charged with counts of felony vandalism and inciting a riot.
A protest over a tuition increase within the University of California system resulted in shattered glass and one arrest Wednesday afternoon.
As the UC Board of Regents committee met inside the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) community center and approved 7-2 for a tuition hike that will increase tuition by five percent over the next five years, hundreds of students representing all of the schools within the 10-campus system stood outside protesting. One student was arrested after shattering the glass door to the community center in an attempt to get inside.
“Demonstrators forced their way through metal barricades...in the quad area of campus,” UCSF spokeswoman Elizabeth Fernandez told Campus Reform in a phone call on Wednesday.
Fernandez confirmed to Campus Reform that a male, 21-year-old University of California, Berkeley student was arrested after the protesters shattered the glass door and scuffled with police. The student, who lives on campus, was arrested.
Some Board of Regents members, including George Kieffer, were jostled and heckled as they entered the building. During the meeting, Kieffer briefly engaged in a shouting match with students inside the room when he chastised them for blocking his way into the building.
According to The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley's student publication, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 bused students 17 miles from Berkeley to San Francisco.
The publication reported that students from UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and UC Riverside also attended Wednesday's protest.
Adrienne Shih, a UC Berkeley student and reporter for The Daily Californian, told Campus Reform via Twitter that more than 200 students protested on campus--“one large group in front of [the] building [with Regents inside], with smaller groups scattered around campus.”
Arianna Ramos, a second-year UC San Diego student, told Campus Reform that she was among the protesters Wednesday afternoon.
“I know what it’s like to have no support, to have the weight of not being able to pay your bills at 18, to have holds on your student account preventing you from enrolling for the next quarter, to fear that you will never be able to complete your education because you can’t afford it,” Ramos said. “I’d like the Regents to know that students here support each other, regardless of whether or not this tuition hike affects them. This solidarity is stronger than their vote, and we will create change whether they agree with it or not.”
After the Regents committee voted in favor of the tuition increase, with the official passing of the resolution slated for Thursday, Ramos said students were “ready to stir up and occupy.”
The proposed tuition increase from UC System President Janet Napolitano is the result of a recent decline in state funding, according to The Daily Californian. State funding for the universities is $460 million less than the funding provided eight years ago. The UC System has also seen an increase in enrollment.
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof told The Daily Californian prior to Wednesday’s vote that most in-state students who have less than $150,000 in household income will not be affected by Napolitano’s tuition increase plan.
“Are all of the people [protesting] from families making more than $150,000, and if not, what are they protesting?” Mogulof said. “There’s a lot of irresponsible rhetoric and demagoguery around this issue.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, Regent Sherry Lansing lamented that students, board members, faculty, and alumni were misled when they approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D-Calif.) Proposition 30, a temporary tax hike, in 2012.
“This is not Wall Street, this is the University of California," Brown said during the meeting.
Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin said she did not approve of the tuition increase while pleading with Brown for more state money and with her peers to find more ways to fund students.
Ramos said while she doesn’t support a tuition hike, she also does not support another increase in taxes .
As the Regents called role and voted, student protesters inside the meeting shouted over the members.
“Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Napolitano has got to go,” the protesters shouted.
The Regents immediately disbanded for a lunch break after the vote. The official vote from the full Board of Regents to pass the tuition hike will happen on Thursday which The Daily Californian described as "traditionally...more of a formality."
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn