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.
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