UC Students Occupy UCLA Building to Protest Fee Increase (Updates)

50596143In Westwood, Ca., hundreds of UC students have organized a TBNYU-esque occupation at UCLA, protesting the likely approval of UC fee increase — UC students don’t pay tuition, but “fees” — to help the state overcome its absurd deficit.

About 50 students have taken over building Campbell Hall, where they have chained the doors shut and are wearing intimidating bandanas. Naturally, hundreds more (representing various UC campuses) have joined them outside the building, with picket signs and even more bandanas Saw v download. Hm, this all sounds so familiar.

The group (with no distinct name) has released an audio statement encouraging students “who work two or three jobs while going to school” or for parents who will lose “the prospect of affordable education” to join in on the protest. Their only demand asks that state leadership find “other alternatives” besides increasing UC fees.

According to the LA Times:

“The full Board of Regents is expected to approve a fee hike of $2,500, or 32%, in two steps by next fall. That would bring the basic UC education fees to about $10,300, plus about another $1,000 for campus-based charges, for a total that would be about triple the UC cost a decade ago. Room, board and books can add another $16,000.”

NYU’s tuition is roughly twice the post-increase fees UC students pay. Just saying.

UPDATE: According to the LA Daily News, the UC Board of Regents — essentially the governing body of the UC system — has indeed “approved a 32 percent fee increase Thursday that will push UC tuition above $10,000 for the first time.” The increase comes while the entire UC system is facing a deficit of over $500 million.

Also, one student was arrested earlier for obstructing a police officer (whatever that means). Yesterday, twelve students were arrested while protesting in front of the Board of Regents’ Finance Committee.

The AP notes that “police in riot gear kept an eye on the protesters.”

Also, here’s a clarification of the fee system: All UC  universities are in a public system, thus tuition is hypothetically $0. However, all students pay through so-called fees managed by the UC Board of Regents, the UC governing body established in the California constitution.

UPDATE: Here’s a video of some protesting, with some heated action between students and police:

Compare this to last year’s TBNYU protest in front of Kimmel (for non-NYU readers, Kimmel is NYU’s primary student building). It’s interesting how similar both protests are, except the fact that UC students are wearing t-shirts and sunglasses (not jealous at all). Although, according to a few sources — friends at various UC universities — protests have been occurring regularly on campuses for the past few months:

The LA Times also reports that 40 other protestors locked themselves inside a classroom across campus from the main action. After the Board of Regents approved the fee increase — while protestors were only yards away — “some of the regents were trapped in the building and in vehicles as about 100 demonstrators surrounded the garage. Later, police cleared a path and escorted the UC officials out in a hurry as students chased them.” Here’s an awesome photo of some students blocking a van carrying regents:

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The UCSolidarity website is also posting advisories for upcoming protests at different UC campuses, including UC Berkeley, which is organizing a solidarity strike.

Check in for more updates.

Photos from LA Times.

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    21 Comments

  1. Phil Saunders says

    I don’t know enough about UC schools to comment on the fee increase, but this is how you occupy a school. One simple, succinct, and potentially easily met demand.

    If only TBNYU had just demanded financial transparency…

  2. Cindy Amobi says

    “NYU’s tuition still roughly twice the post-increase fees UC students pay. Just saying.”
    Yes this may be true, but the difference between our situation and yours is the fact that we attend a PUBLIC university, which was created for the purpose of making higher education more accessible to the PUBLIC. Please don’t even try to compare NYU to a University of California public institution. When you raise tuition on our campuses, it doesn’t simply mean more money to pay; it means that your teachers, your friends, maybe even YOU won’t be able to attend next quarter

  3. Nicole Iturriaga says

    The UC System was designed so everyone from every socioeconomic background could have the opportunity and ability to get higher education. It is ridiculous to compare the tuition rates at a private university, whose sole purpose for existence in NOT to serve every member of its community regardless of background but rather to keep the elite the elite, to a public institution such as the UC System. In the immediate the fee increases are going to adversely effect who can attend these schools. Forcing many who are already in school to drop out and at the same time price out many potential scholars at all of levels including undergrad, grad, post docs, and even professors (whom are also facing cuts to their salaries). The regents not only raised fees but they also cut programs and people. So not only are UC students going to be paying way more then they have ever been asked to pay since the creation of the UC system they are receiving less benefits in return.

    Another thing, did it ever occur to you that the students in the UC system are attending a UC because they cannot afford to go to a private university such as NYU?

    If you think that what is happening to California’s public university system doesn’t effect you in NY you couldn’t be more wrong. Our society is strong when its people are educated. Our social problems are worse when education is not quality and accessible. Education is right not a privilege for the upper class. All education should be free and high quality.

  4. tamra thomas says

    “NYU’s tuition is still roughly twice the post-increase fees UC students pay. Just saying.”

    NYU is private while UCLA is public, UCLA SHOULD be cheaper and is supposed to free to California residents, hence the word “fee” not tuition. just saying.

  5. Barbara Dayan says

    The immaturity of California college students who think their education is a gift from Santa Claus is astonishing. It’s about time students begin to contribute more of their own money to their education instead of expecting California taxpayers to subsidize such a large portion of their tuition. Compared to other states, California public colleges are very low cost even with this new increase. Community colleges tuition is also ridiculously low which is one reason why many students in California do not value the education they can obtain there. What do students do in other states? They work and save up for college. Taxpayers in California have had enough, it’s time for all students in this state to pay their fair share of education costs.

  6. Phillip Woeckener says

    Ignorant liberals! Where do you think the funding for this “public” university system comes from? The money has to come from somewhere. Why not use that college education and ponder that one for a little while. California is in this mess because of the entitlement attitude of everyone posting above. Higher education has never been a “right”, but it is a privilege!!! Just like everything else in life, your rights are limited to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Hmmm, maybe if they actually TAUGHT you guys the Declaration of Independence, and real, authentic American History, then you’d actually appreciate how fortunate you are to even have the privilege of attending college.

    Unfortunately you ignorant students are merely a product of a government run school system that wants you to feel good about being mediocre, and that you have the right to just coast through life and everything will be handed to you on a silver platter.

    This “protest” is the epitome of everything that is wrong with California, and any other place where entitlement minded individuals voting blue reside. You reap what you sow you ignorant fools!!!

  7. John Proctor says

    The issue within the UC schools is more than a simple fee hike. There are less classes available to take, and class sizes have increased, making enrollment for all students much more difficult. The amount of T.A.s have also diminished, meaning section sizes are much bigger as well. Professors are required to take “furlough days”, meaning that they have to take an unpaid absence rather than teach (so that the UC system can presumably save money), which also means that there are less instructional days during the year. In schools such as UCSB, programs have been cut such as the Excerise and Sports Studies program, which was one of the most popular undergrad minors in the University. Furthermore, many students working within the UC system have lost their jobs due to the budget cuts. For example, I’ve been working in the UCSB Davidson Library for the past three years, but was forced to quit recently because my department has absolutely no money to pay me. The UC system is in a serious amount of trouble right now, and nobody knows how much worse things could get. For all we know here in California, the UC system could begin moving toward privitization, starting with these very fee hikes. Regardless, it is evident that what is happening within the UC system illustrates a much much larger concern that is occurring within the state of California, specifically the fact that California is broke. Just saying.

  8. Phil Saunders says

    @Phillip
    The declaration of independence isn’t a legal document, so it doesn’t actually have anything to do with rights. You’re thinking of the constitution and the bill of rights. UC schools are difficult to get into; the average GPA at UCLA and UC Berkley is 4.15 and 4.16, respectively. Just because they are cheaper than comparable schools does not make them any easier. Just because an education costs more does not make it better.

    Globally, our insanely priced colleges are something of a rarity. Most of Europe, Egypt, Canada, Brazil, India, China, etc all have free or near-free public schools. These are the same countries producing graduates who are taking executive level positions in top level corporations around the world. Their education is government sponsored, yet they come, at least in some cases, from extremely poor countries where entitlement isn’t exactly rampant.

    If you are suggesting that only the wealthy deserve to go to college, you may be part of the reason the US does so poorly in worldwide education rankings.

  9. Julianna M. says

    “Where do you think the funding for this “public” university system comes from? The money has to come from somewhere.”

    It comes from the taxes that ya’ll hate paying so much.

  10. Colt Sterling says

    At Phil Saunders

    So why do so many students from Europe, Egypt, Canada, Brazil, India, China etc. come to the United States for college. Far more than Americans who go to universities overseas. Maybe you get what you pay for.

  11. Phil Saunders says

    @ Colt
    Maybe they come here for the same reason a lot of people go to schools in big cities; to make the connections they’ll need to get jobs after school.

    If you think you get what you pay for, look at John Proctor’s post; this increase in fees isn’t buying them anything more than before. In fact, they are getting less.

    I’m not arguing for free higher education for everyone, I’m just pointing out that if your government is supposed to offer free or cheap University education, it is understandable to angry when they demand you pay more for less.

  12. T. R. says

    Go Students!!! And workers who have stood with them in solidarity with them against the sham of tuition hikes and job cuts. Students and workers shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of incompetent self-serving leaders in business and politics.

    Even though I’m not a student and don’t work in the university system and haven’t been as hard hit by this man-made financial crisis then many that I know, though I have been negatively affected, I still want to head out there and take a stand in solidarity with the students.

    Don’t let the leaders of business, media, and politics fool you, this economic crises was 100% preventable and is not an act of god or nature but rather was due to the bad, for working class folks, choices made by leaders for the exclusive benefit of their class.

    The financial crises makes it clear that we can’t entrust our well being to leaders of any stripe, be they in politics, media, or business. We need a participatory democracy in which all of the people participate in the decisions that affect their lives and have an opportunity to play a participatory role in managing such, not just in terms of politics, but in terms of media and economics as well.

    But in the mean time we need to demand higher taxes against corporations and high tariffs and taxes on imports. We need to force the leaders of industry to bring industry and jobs back into the United States. We need to bring an end to legal personhood for corporations. The corporate clowns have had enough of a free ride.

    I think that in general the younger generations are waking up to reality. But unfortunately, in general, the older generations remain mired in the Cold War propaganda that the government and media has spoon fed them since childhood.

    T.R.

    Riverside, Ca.

  13. Brian Bostwick says

    phone number (626)497-3978

    I get the feeling from this article that your opinion of the protests by campus across the UC system is not high.
    i I personally have not taken a particularly strong part in the protesting on our campus at UC Berkeley, however I can say that however poorly organized and unified the protesters on our campus may be, they all feel that what is happening to our UC system is wrong (whatever their varying reasons may be) and have chosen, many with personal sacrifice, to take a stand.

    It is true that the students at NYU have been paying significantly more tuition per year fordecades, but this does not invalidate our standpoint. Students in the UC system have historically received a good education at minimal cost. As a public university, the cost of attending a UC have historically consisted of fees that fund non-academic functions, with the cost of tuition being funded by the state.

    You can suggest that we have nothing to complain about, by reminding us that what we are going to be paying beginning this coming spring semester is minimal when compared the tuition paid by students at NYU, or even the private universities like Harvord, Yale, Stanford, etc. What we are fighting for primarily is not the right to a free education (although indeed we believe this to be a fundamental right of all people and would love for you to see free tuition as well) but the expectation that our University system maintain the structure and principles on which it was founded.

    We fear these fee increases, and the precedent they set for similar increase in the future, may drastic and devastating effects on the UC and its student body in the years to come.

    I would also like to add that the majority of the students in the University of California are aware that much of the financial burden we are currently faces is indeed the result of poor budgeting by the CA state government, and that in times of economic recession we are all responsible for suffering some of the additional burden if we expect the quality of our education to persist. However, our concerns are with the unwillingness of our UC regents to make the reallocation of funds in our budget apparent, and until transparency is reached we will not stand for these drastic increases in fees for an education many of our peers already cannot afford but undeniably deserve.

  14. Sam Kimbrel says

    Mr. Hsu:

    I find your glib attitude towards the destruction of one of the greatest public education systems in the United States disturbing.

    Here’s a brief history lesson for you, since you might not be familiar with the history of the University of California. The University as a public institution came into existence when the newly-founded, then-private College of California (in Berkeley) was merged into a proposed state university plan. Fast-forward nine decades: the California Master Plan for Higher Education is passed in 1960 and establishes a three-tiered system where the top eighth of graduating California high school students are guaranteed a place at a University of California campus, the top third are guaranteed admission to either a University of California or California State University campus, and all students would be able to enroll in two-year community or junior colleges, with UC and CSU campuses accepting all qualified students who had completed two years of study at a community college. All of this was, in 1960, free to all qualified students, as the entire system was fully funded by the state and through private donations. As the system grew and the political and economic climate became more conservative, UC, CSU, and the community college’s funding was gradually reduced in the state budget, forcing the systems to implement student fees to balance their budgets.

    In recent years, things have only gotten worse. The state has spent more and more on myriad special programs, without increasing taxes to pay for them. Legislators’ hands are tied due to provisions in the state Constitution such as the 1978 Proposition 13, which bars state property taxes from exceeding one percent of the assessed value of the property *in addition to* freezing property values at the time of the measure’s passage, excepting a two percent annual increase and re-assessment when a property changes ownership, at which time the value is updated and then frozen again. The political climate of California also makes it extremely unpopular for legislators to increase other taxes. The result of all this is a state budget which cannot be balanced to pay for all of the programs carried by California, but the people scream bloody murder whenever legislators try to cut spending to any of these programs. Essentially, Californians want services without having to pay for them, which is why we are in this fix now.

    Keeping UC fees low is an incredibly important priority for the state in both economic and social terms. One study carried out a few years ago showed that for every dollar the state spent on public higher education it received back threefold in later tax revenues; aside from that, a college education is virtually a necessity for any non-trivial job in today’s market. Those of us protesting the University’s actions are really protesting the state politics and budget process that have forced the University to this point, and we believe wholeheartedly that education is a basic right in the modern world that should be affordable for every qualified student.

    For you to belittle our cause by snidely pointing out that NYU costs “roughly twice the post-increase fees UC students pay” is unfair, unwarranted, and does nothing but set us back from reaching our goals. NYU is and has always been a private institution, regardless of its status as a non-profit organization, so to compare its tuition to the operating fees of a public university is near meaningless. Thanks for letting us know that you don’t care about the future of affordable education in this country. (And hey, think about this: if NYU sees that a *public* institution like UC can get away with raising its fees/tuition 32 percent, what’s to stop NYU from enacting its own increases?)

    Sam Kimbrel
    University of California at Berkeley, Class of 2010

  15. Henry Chan says

    Well, shit. What else are the Regents supposed to do? It’s not like they have a grove of money trees lying around. The system is facing a $500 million deficit and you can’t pull that kind of money out of thin air. I’m sure the Regents would have loved it if they didn’t have to approve a 32% increase in fees, but times are tough, and they gotta do something.

    If students wanted them to find alternatives to closing the gap, perhaps the students should suggest some ideas?

  16. says

    @UC Student commenters

    While I understand why you might somehow imply that I was writing with a “glib attitude towards the destruction of the UC system,” – I guess because I wrote one sly two-word sentence – this is definitely not the case (see my earlier comment). Keep in mind that this blog is aimed towards the NYU community and I was merely offering some comparison, which seems to be the point of unnecessary controversy here. As any NYU student will tell you, we also have our own struggles with our administration’s management of our tuition.

  17. Michelle Jackson says

    I am a transfer student from the California State University system — the other public university system in California — which is not mentioned in this article, but is also facing many of the same struggles that the UC system is facing.

    While NYU students do have their own struggles with how their tuition is managed (I work in the Controller’s Division; this school spends a ridiculous amount of money on ridiculous things that have nothing to do with education and enrichment), we signed up for an expensive-ass school from the start. Everyone who comes to this school expects to pay $50,000 or more. Students in the CA public university system do not.

    Also, as someone else mentioned — in CA, course offerings are being reduced, class sizes are increasing, teachers have been fired, and furlough days have been implemented. Thus, students are paying more for an education that is of a lesser quality.

    @Barbara: stop bitching about taxpayer’s money. Those students and their parents invest just as much into their education and their schools as taxpayers, too. And UCLA (as do many other schools) has a wonderful continuing/extension education program that ANYONE can participate in. If you’re not taking advantage of it, that sucks for you.

    And education is not a privilege. This is not medieval Europe. EVERYONE — especially in the U.S. — should have access to a solid, affordable education. If this keeps continuing, we once again return to those elitist, WASP notions of what a university should be.

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