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UC Students Protest Police Actions, Soaring Tuition As Regents Meet

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Occupy California protesters in Berkeley during a November rally. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images)

Occupy California protesters in Berkeley during a November rally. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A University of California Board of Regents meeting held via teleconference at four UC campuses wrapped up Monday afternoon after being briefly interrupted by protesters who criticized recent police actions in Davis and Berkeley and rising tuition costs.

UC leaders attending Monday’s Board of Regents meeting at the San Francisco-Mission Bay campus left the meeting hall after protesters began shouting and chanting.

UC spokesman Steve Montiel said the regents moved to a different room and resumed the meeting.

The meeting, which had originally been scheduled earlier for this month, was postponed until Monday because of “credible intelligence” that

UC President Mark Yudof said at the start of the meeting that he is calling for the partial restoration of funding for the system in the state Legislature’s next budget negotiations, saying the state has reduced its contribution to the UC system by nearly a billion dollars in the past few years.

“State disinvestment has placed a tremendous strain on the university,” reducing the state’s contribution to the UC system from $3.2 billion to $2.3 billion over the past few years, Yudof said.

Yudof told KCBS shortly before the meeting began that part of this year’s strategy is to aggressively court private donors.

“Last year, all ten campuses raised $1.6 billion but 98% of it is restricted, it’s for a new hospital at Mission Bay, it’s for medical centers,” he explained. “(It’s) all great stuff for which we’re very appreciative, but only about $32 million was unrestricted. We need more unrestricted money to pay our basic bills.”
UC could see another $100 million in state funding slashed this winter if state revenue falls short – as expected.

Fees are now twice what they were just five years ago. Yudof said he wants the state to fund the system at 2007 levels.

About 150 people at the four campuses signed up to speak during the public comment period, many of whom criticized university police, tuition hikes, and the corporate backgrounds of some of the regents.

The spiraling cost of college was at the heart of many students’ anger.

Students lamented that they will graduate with thousands of dollars of student debt. An untold number of students are working one – sometimes two – jobs while studying, struggling to pay school-related costs and rent.

Charlie Eaton, financial secretary for United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents about 12,000 UC teaching assistants and other staff, was one of about two dozen speakers at the San Francisco meeting, telling the regents “The buck stops with you … and it’s time for you to pay.”
Other speakers criticized an independent commission proposed by the regents to look into the Davis incident that would be led by former Los Angeles and New York police Chief William Bratton, who is already contracted to work with the UC administration.

Yudof said, “I don’t see any conflict problem” and said “we will get to the bottom of the difficulties at Davis.”

Lansing said at the end of the public comment period that she “would like to continue this dialogue” with a tour of various UC campuses by some of the regents.

“We hear you, and we share your concerns,” she said.

Lansing said at the end of the two-hour public comment period that she “would like to continue this dialogue” with students with a tour of various UC campuses with some of the regents.

However, that sentiment did not satisfy the protesters at the San Francisco meeting, who started prolonged chants, prompting the regents to take a recess at 11:40 a.m.

While most of the regents left, Newsom stayed and joined protesters who then held a “People’s Regents Meeting” in the room, during which they called on Yudof to resign, as well as the chancellors at Berkeley and Davis, and proposed new ways of appointing regents.

Newsom said the protesters “restored my faith and confidence in this state and country” since “there were not a lot of people showing up at these meetings” until the Occupy movements started spreading across the country in recent months.

Newsom eventually joined the rest of the regents in a separate room Monday afternoon to finish the meeting, which included a discussion of alternative funding sources beyond tuition from students and taxpayer support and approval of an expenditure plan for the upcoming budgetary year.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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