BERKELEY (BCN) — More than 500 protesters rallied against tuition fee hikes and budget cuts at the University of California at Berkeley Thursday, including about 100 who planned to gather at the school’s library well into the evening, a university spokeswoman said.

Students at other UC and California State University schools also held protests at their respective campuses.

The Berkeley protestors submitted a list of demands, including free education for all and for the university to rescind a 32 percent tuition fee increase that took place in the 2009 academic year.

“We need to reverse the hikes and reverse the layoffs,” said Luis Reyes, a student worker at UC Berkeley who was at the protests Thursday.

Reyes said he is upset that 200 more layoffs are planned at UC Berkeley this year in order to save $20 million.

Organizers took their protest to the north reading room of Doe Library, where they were expected to stay until about 9 p.m., said Janet Gilmore, a spokeswoman for the university.

The office of the chancellor responded to the protest on the school website.

“Although we cannot respond to all of the demands for which you are fighting, we do support the cause of continuing to raise your voices to inform the California public,” the statement said.

No injuries or arrests have been reported in association with the protest, but police increased staff to ensure the demonstrations remain peaceful, UC Berkeley police Lt. Alex Yao said.

The rally was held a day after state officials released a budget package that, if passed, could give each of the state’s university systems $199 million.

An additional $106 million for both school systems will come from the federal stimulus bill approved in 2009, for a combined total of $305 million.

“The budget is a welcome change of trajectory, but whether or not all Californians can attend these schools is still on the table,” said Alice Sunshine, a spokeswoman for a rally held Thursday at California State University East Bay.

Sunshine, who works for the California Faculty Association, said the CSU system has experienced many difficulties this year, including faculty layoffs.

“A lot of people had to retire early,” said Kim Geron, a professor at CSU East Bay. “Or they work 10 months or six months out of the year.”

University of California, Merced students also rallied against tuition fee hikes in downtown Merced, said Scott Jason, a university spokesman. He said about 50 students were participating in the rally.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

Comments (4)
  1. Nick says:

    Do any of these people attending a rally have any idea on how to close the budget gap? If not, they should shut up and go to class.

  2. ana says:

    Kind of hard to go to class when they’re all being canceled due to the budget.

  3. nickismad says:

    Nick, you mad?

  4. Milan says:

    When UC Berkeley announced its elimination of baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse teams and its defunding of the national-champion men’s rugby team, the chancellor sighed, “Sorry, but this was necessary!”
    But was it? Yes, the university is in dire financial straits. Yet $3 million was somehow found to pay the Bain consulting firm to uncover waste and inefficiencies in UC Berkeley, despite the fact that a prominent East Coast university was doing the same thing without consultants.
    Essentially, the process requires collecting and analyzing information from faculty and staff. Apparently, senior administrators at UC Berkeley believe that the faculty and staff of their world-class university lack the cognitive ability, integrity, and motivation to identify millions in savings.
    If consultants are necessary, the reason is clear: the chancellor, provost, and president have lost credibility with the people who provided the information to the consultants. Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau has reigned for eight years, during which time the inefficiencies proliferated. Even as Bain’s recommendations are implemented (“They told me to do it”, Birgeneau), credibility and trust problems remain.

    Bain target is to discover $150 million in inefficiencies, most of which could have been found internally. One easy-to-identify problem, for example, was wasteful procurement practices such as failing to secure bulk discounts on printers. But Birgeneau apparently has no concept of savings: even in procuring a consulting firm, he failed to receive proposals from other firms.

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