UCSA members ejected from Regents meeting

    Members of the public, including students affiliated with the University of California Student Association, were asked to leave the May 14 UC Board of Regents meeting held in San Francisco following the public comment period after audience members began to rally and speak out of turn after the allotted time for the period expired.

    Representatives from UCSA, including UCSA Chair and UCSD student Stephen Klass, came to the public comment period to address possible student fee increases as well as the need for the creation of a student advisory board to address a fee increase.

    Klass said many students hoped to address their concerns regarding the fee increase in front of the Regents, and those students became upset when the opportunity to speak expired.

    “”Because it was such a contentious issue, people were getting very heated,”” Klass said. “”They wanted to get their voices heard and this is the only capacity at the meeting where people are allowed to make comments.””

    The public comment period, which was originally allocated 20 minutes in the agenda, was extended an additional 10 minutes by Regents Chair John Moores. Despite the extension, three speakers still were unable to deliver their comments and began to chant.

    The Regents meeting was temporarily recessed and police ordered all members of the public to leave the gallery. Students reassembled and rallied outside and were met with by Regents Gayle Binion, Odessa Johnson, Velma Montoya, Alredo Terrazas and Tom Sayles as well as Student Regent Dexter Ligot-Gordon and Student Regent-Designate Matthew Murray to hear the rest of their remarks.

    UC Spokesman Trey Davis said that even though not all students were able to relay their comments at the meeting, the Regents are aware of student issues.

    “”It’s not as if the only time the students get input is in that 20-minute public comment period at the start of the meetings,”” Davis said. “”It’s an ongoing dialogue that occurs throughout the year.””

    According to Davis, students and members of the public are allowed to contact Regents through any other number of means. Additionally, speakers are invited to submit the written entirety of their remarks.

    Guidelines for the public comment period generally allow for three minutes to be provided to each speaker and for three individuals or more to combine their time for seven minutes of input.

    Davis defended the decision to end the public comment period after the first extension.

    “”It’s just not fair to everybody else to suddenly hijack a meeting that has 10 or 15 items for one single item,”” Davis said.

    Klass said of the meeting overall that he felt the Regents “”understood where UCSA was coming from”” and that despite being asked to leave the meeting, UCSA was able to get their message across.

    “”Some believe [the public comment period] is the only way that students can get their voices heard, but in a lot of ways being kicked out was a success in helping the cause,”” Klass said.

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