Saturday, November 22, 2014

Economic Destitution: Massive protest fails to stop tuition hikes at University of California

AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla
RT | Nov 21, 2014

The University of California’s Board of Regents approved on Thursday a plan to increase college tuition by as much as 28 percent during the next five years, notwithstanding a multi-day protest attended by hundreds.

By a vote of 14-7, the board said on Thursday that they’d go forward with a move that will let tuition prices be hiked annually by 5 percent during the next half-decade.

According to the Washington Post, the decision will see the cost of attending classes surge from $12,804 next fall to $15,564 in 2019, which students opposed to the decision said would make obtaining an education must less affordable for the middle-class.

Ahead of the decision, students gathered at UC Berkley’s Wheeler Hall this week in protest, with as many as 300 remaining in place on Thursday evening, according to the Daily Californian, despite the wishes of administrators.

“People who are easy to step over are stepped over,” UC Berkeley Daniel Evans told Daily California from the occupation. "If this works, this shows our Berkeley ethos — that student protests are not something to roll your eyes at.”

“This is between the students and the administration,” added UCPD Officer Marco Ruiz. “If there’s a life threatened or hazardous conduct, (we’ll intervene). But short of that, we’ll let students do their thing.”

One student, 21-year-old Jeff Noven, was arrested on Wednesday over allegations he incited a riot at a UC campus in San Francisco. Speaking to the The Chronicle the next day, Noven said he was “sitting in solidarity with my fellow students to bring attention to just how underrepresented the university’s most important constituents are, students. There is not enough accountability.”

Despite the students’ efforts, however, the Board of Regents approved the plan on Thursday, setting the stage for what will likely be “months of negotiations and political posturing,” according to the Los Angeles Times, before a final tuition increase is set in stone.

Thursday’s vote, the Times reported, was inaudible because roughly 25 students in attendance interrupted the proceedings with loud chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, tuition hikes have got to go!"

 UC administrators in favor of the decision said that a decline in funding has made operating the 12-campus university more of a burden than before. According to the Times, the school received $460 million less in state revenue this year than seven years earlier.

In 2009, similar protests and an occupation were waged in response to tuition hikes.

“The fact that we’re coming back again means something didn’t work,” Navid Shaghaghi, a UC Berkeley alumnus involved in the occupation five years ago, told Daily Cal. “The issues haven’t changed. The decision-makers are the same. The villains of the story are the same — the Board of Regents.”

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