During a closed meeting on Monday, the UC Board of Regents unanimously approved an 8 percent increase in systemwide spending, awarded pay raises to several UC administrators and voted to request an additional $411 million from the state in next year’s expenditure budget.
The meeting was held via teleconference across four campuses — Davis, San Francisco, Merced and Los Angeles — after being postponed from its scheduled dates of Nov. 16-17 due to concerns about the nature of surrounding rallies. Following a lengthy public comment section, teleconferences disconnected one by one as protesters from each campus chanted in favor of democratic procedures, declaring the space an open “people’s meeting” and prompting the majority of regents to reconvene in a closed session.
With no public deliberation, the board swiftly passed nine action items including the 2012-2013 expenditure budget — representing the UC’s fiscal request of the state — and salary increases, some by over 20 percent, for 16 administrators and lawyers. The board will not vote on further tuition hikes until March, after the governor’s budget proposal has been released.
UCLA urban planning graduate student Cheryl Deutsch, president of United Auto Workers Local 2865 — a union that represents an estimated 12,000 academic student employees — said the board’s dismissal of demonstrators’ input highlights the stark contrast between student interests and administrative priorities.
“It’s very clear that students came with very concrete demands, the regents refused to entertain those demands and as soon as the students raised their voice to demand a more democratic process, the regents retreated behind technology and behind closed doors to do what they had already decided they were going to do.”
UC Merced, with a constituency of one regent, was the only session that did not relocate; meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom at UCSF and Student Regent Alfredo Mireles at UCD elected to remain in the open session with demonstrators, who engaged the remaining participants in a short-lived dialogue.
Following the closed session, administrators including Board Chair Sherry Lansing, regent Eddie Island, Executive Vice President of Business Operations Nathan Brostrom, UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block briefly met with students and faculty protesters at UCLA but deferred discussion until a subsequent meeting can be scheduled.
According to California’s Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, the state’s public bodies may move into closed session during “emergency situations” — defined as “work stoppage or other activity that severely impairs public health or safety, or both” or “crippling disaster that severely impairs public health or safety, or both” — but must follow specific measures to comply with the legislation.
As stated in Section 11125.5, “The minutes of a meeting [closed due to an emergency situation], … a copy of the rollcall vote, and any action taken at the meeting shall be posted for a minimum of 10 days in a public place, and also made available on the Internet for a minimum of 10 days, as soon after the meeting as possible.”
While the board said its decision to move into a closed meeting did not violate the Bagley-Keene Act as the proceedings would be posted online, no documentation of the session has been made available as of press time.