UC regents approve 32 percent student fee increase

November 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
As hundreds of students demonstrated outside, University of California leaders on Thursday voted to approve a 32 percent hike in undergraduate fees, arguing the increase is crucial because of the state's budget crisis.The UC Board of Regents, meeting at UCLA, approved a two-phase increase that will boost the average undergraduate fee $2,500 by next fall. That would bring the average annual cost to about $10,300 -- a threefold increase in a decade.

After a series of deep cuts in state aid, and with state government facing a nearly $21 billion budget gap over the next year and a half, regents said there was no option to higher fees.

Outside the meeting hall, hundreds of demonstrators chanted, beat drums and hoisted signs opposing the fee increase while UC campus police in face shields and California Highway Patrol officers with beanbag-shooting guns stood watch.

The protest, which briefly spilled onto busy streets off campus, was noisy but peaceful. One person was arrested. She was cited for obstructing and officer and released, University of California, Los Angeles, said spokesman Phil Hampton.

There were 14 arrests on Wednesday.

Other protesters on Thursday took over an ethnic studies classroom building at the other end of campus, chaining the doors shut and forcing cancellation of classes. However, they were peaceful and were allowed to remain, Hampton said.

Many students from other campuses flocked to UCLA to join the protests, staying overnight in a campus tent city.

Laura Zavala, 20, a third-year UCLA student, said she may have to get a second job to afford the increase.

"My family can't support me. I have to pay myself," she said. "It's not fair to students, when they are already pinched."

Ayanna Moody, a second-year prelaw student, said she might have to return to community college next year.

"I worked so hard to be at one of the most prestigious universities. To have to go back, it's very depressing," she said.

"I think it's outrageous," Moody said of the fee increase. "They've already cut out a lot of our majors and programs. I'd rather they cut some of their (administrator) salaries."

Demonstrations also were held at other UC campuses.

UC President Mark Yudof said Wednesday he couldn't rule out raising student fees again if the state is unable to meet his request for an additional $913 million next year for the 10-campus system.

"I can't make any ... promises," he said.

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Associated Press Writer Marcus Wohlsen in Berkeley, Calif., contributed to this report


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