The UC Board of Regents met yesterday at UC Riverside for their second day of meetings intended to furnish a comprehensive method to cope with the university system’s chronic budget crisis.
Although the Regents did not approve any significant action items, the event elicited a large reaction from student protesters, who disrupted the board’s proceedings with a mic check for the second time in a row. Falling in line with the decision reached at their Nov. 28 meeting, the board moved its open meetings to a secluded meeting space after less than five minutes of demonstrating.
During the open mic, third-year UCSB political science major Sophia Armen said the students did not receive due representation.
“We have respected your process and you have not respected our space here,” Armen said.
However, Chairman of the Board Sherry Lansing said it was imperative the board commence its regular session.
“Your voices have been heard and we’d like to begin,” Lansing said. “I’m sorry you’re not letting us do our business. We will now clear the room.”
Students left peacefully but continued their demonstrations outside.
After the board reconvened, UC Vice President of Budget and Capital Resources Patrick Lenz delivered a report on Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent 2012-2013 budget proposal outlining the consequences it embodies for higher education funding.
Although the plan calls for $300 million more in UC funding than this year’s budget, Lenz said this will do little to compensate for existing deficits as $200 million is already allocated toward the UC Retirement Plan and retirement health benefits.
“The magnitude of this funding is also a bit misleading,” Lenz said. “You shouldn’t assume that the UC is really getting $300 million more to support our budget shortfall with two exceptions.”
According to Lenz, this year’s tuition hikes only covered 24 percent of the UC’s budget shortfall, with campuses managing nearly $850 million of the funding gap.
The board failed to reach any conclusions regarding the report and Lenz said more specific data will be relayed at the board’s next meeting in March.
During the public comments session, a student who identified himself as Toby said the UC’s emphasis on searching for alternative revenue sources reveals how poorly they have managed the system in recent years.
“You’ve bled us dry. … You’ve soaked up every strain of revenue we can give you,” Toby said. “The student loan debt presently eclipses the United States credit card debt and you are laughing all the way to the bank.”
Despite student demonstrations and a lack of concrete resolutions, UC President Mark G. Yudof said yesterday’s session was ultimately productive.
“This is exactly what we wanted the second day to be about. We wanted it to be about robust discussion, robust input,” Yudof said. “What I see around this table is people that are engaged and thinking out of the box and thinking of new ways so that really makes me happy.”