Students Take Over Chancellor’s Meeting

Violent protests broke out at a California State University Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 16 when the Board approved a 9-percent tuition increase for the 2012-13 academic year.

Police stopped protesters, both students and local “Occupy Long Beach” activists, as they attempted to gain entrance to the meeting held at the Cal State Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach.

Tuition at the 23 Cal State campuses will increase by $498 per academic year, bringing the cost to nearly $6,000 annually. In an open letter, Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed called the decision to raise tuition “difficult,” and noted that the university would seek other sources of revenue, including an increased enrollment of 5 percent — or around 20,000 students.

“The Cal State’s budget was cut $650 million this year, and we face the real prospect of another $100-million reduction in a few weeks,” Reed wrote in the letter. “We have few options left, and increasing tuition is one of our most difficult choices.”

Amid clashes with Cal State police, protesters broke the glass building entrance and four people were arrested. The chancellor’s office estimated that the total damage to the building would cost around $30,000.

“Protesting peacefully and with purpose can be effective,” Reed said. “But demonstrations that turn disruptive and result in damage and injury are intolerable. The disrespect shown by several protesters was inexcusable.”

Two days later, the California Faculty Association, a union comprised of professors and lecturers at Cal State campuses, staged a one-day strike in opposition to the trustees’ spending decisions. Reed urged students and faculty to avoid walking out on verbal discussion with trustees.

“We continue to urge our faculty union to bargain at the table,” Reed said. “Strikes and related activities are a costly distraction.”

A Nov. 17 Los Angeles Times article noted that California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Cal State trustee, had asked the rest of the board to reexamine the tuition hike at a meeting next month.

Newsom compared Cal State’s budget situation to that of the University of California, noting that UC President Mark G. Yudof had elected not to raise tuition in an effort to encourage more funding from state government.

“We should send a strong message and reject this,” Newsom said. “That will get a strong reaction in Sacramento.”

Earlier this month, Yudof announced he would seek alternative sources of income to help offset the UC system’s $650-million budget cut.

Tuition at the 10 UC campuses rose 11 percent this past July following an 8-percent increase in November 2010 and a 32-percent increase in November 2009.