Fee Increase Drives Students to LA Protest

Hundreds of students have signed up to descend upon the UC Board of Regents meeting at UCLA this week, a final effort to protest the proposed 32-percent student-fee increase. The regents will meet from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19 to discuss policy related to the university’s funding deficit, among other pressing items.

On Wednesday, the board is expected to authorize a new batch of student-fee increases that would raise in-state undergraduate tuition by an additional $1,391 annually, and nonresident undergraduate fees by $1,469.

A group of UCSD students, including several A.S. Councilmembers, will shuttle to LA on Tuesday to join the protest.

“I think it’s largely assumed that they’re going to pass the fee increases, but we have to have our voices heard at every step of the process,” Revelle College senior and UCSD Coalition to Save Our Futures member Sam Jung said. “At this point in time, we’re going to voice our opinion and vote ‘No’ on the fee increases to send a message to the state to fund public education the way it was funded 10, 15 years ago. Of course, there is a possibility that the students can change the vote of the regents, but we’re going into it with the mindset that they’re probably going to pass it.”

Councilmembers are organizing bus rides to UCLA for students interested in joining the protest. About 200 students from across the UC system are expected to protest at UCLA and participate in the public-comment period.

“We’re going to step up our lobbying efforts and really go after in-district legislators, and really press the gubernatorial candidates on the issue of higher education,” Jung said. “It’s going beyond just the regents and really focusing on the state, where the power to change is going to be.”

As of Sunday evening, e-mails sent out by the Coalition to Save Our Futures — the student organization coordinating UCSD’s leg of the trip — still contained the wrong date on which the regents would begin voting.

In May 2009, the regents approved a 10-percent systemwide Education Fee increase and a 4.2-percent Registration Fee increase, which went into effect by Summer Session I. The Regents also approved an additional 10-percent increase in nonresident tuition for undergraduate students, which took effect this quarter.

On Nov. 18, the regents are expected to approve a midyear fee increase of roughly 15 percent for both UC undergraduate and graduate professional students — along with a 2.6 percent increase for graduate academic students — effective Winter Quarter 2010, along with another systemwide fee increase of roughly 15 percent, effective summer 2010 for all students.

Alongside the fee increases, the regents will consider an expansion of the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which would grant about 800 more students full financial-aid coverage. The program currently covers the systemwide fees of California resident students with family incomes of under $60,000. The latest proposal, initiated by UC President Mark G. Yudof, would raise the income ceiling to $70,000.

However, Jung said the financial-aid proposal is designed primarily to ease student concerns about the fee increases.

“They always come out with a plan like that when they raise fees to appease public opinion,” he said.

Eleanor Roosevelt College freshman Tuhina Srivastava said she agrees with Jung, claiming that the program’s expansion will not make up for the fee increases.

“The Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan is a lofty and noble goal, but it’s just not conducive to the current UC budget crisis,” Srivastava said in an e-mail. “In conjunction with the midyear fee increases, the plan doesn’t directly mitigate the impact of the budget deficit. Instead, it just seems to reapportion funds, not actually solving any problems and certainly not making much difference compared to the imminent 32-percent fee increase.”

Readers can contact Kashi Khorasani at [email protected]