Student protesters gathered at UC San Francisco last week to celebrate Spring Break with the UC Board of Regents during its three-day meeting, stalling the assembly’s procedures for roughly 40 minutes.
The demonstrators — who disrupted the board’s previous two gatherings — began a rowdy “beach party” when the allotted time for public comment on Thursday ended. The Regents vacated their congregation place and the UC police declared the demonstration an unlawful assembly, detaining UCLA students Andrew Harkness-Newton, Cheryl Deutsch and Mathew Sandoval after they failed to heed three warnings to vacate the room.
Although the board’s agenda did not include a vote on tuition, a significant portion of the discussions were framed around the issue. UC Executive Vice President of Business Operations Nathan Brostrom said he supports “modest and predictable increases” in fees for students and their parents to better prepare.
However, Regent Eddie Island said greater student financial contributions should remain a last resort fundraising effort.
“I would have hoped we would have reserved the question of tuition increases for the moment when they are necessary, not before,” Island said. “If we agree on a regime of annual tuition increases over five years, we will lift tuition by about $4,000 a year. That’s not a public mission. We ought to be trying to resist that with every fiber of our being.”
Governor Jerry Brown proposed a tax initiative for the upcoming November ballot to increase the sales tariff by half a cent for four years and raise the income tax on people earning $250,000 or more annually for five years. The UC system will suffer an additional $200 million mid-year cut if the proposal fails to pass.
UC President Mark Yudof said he will seek the board’s endorsement of Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative at an upcoming meeting to reduce the necessity of further tuition increases.
“This is not just about the University of California. It is about all of California,” Yudof said. “It is about the CSU system and the community colleges. It is about healthcare and safe streets and parks and libraries and public schools and all the rest of it.”
However, Regent Norman Pattiz said the additional revenues have an insignificant impact on the university system’s funding.
“I want to support the governor, but I want to support something that accomplishes what we need to do to address the multitude of challenges that we face going forward,” Pattiz said. “I just gotta tell you, what we’re being asked to support doesn’t come anywhere close to that, in my opinion.”
Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom, who serves as an ex-officio member of the board, said the initiative is not directly aimed at restoring the UC’s public model.
“This tax measure I already support, but not because it does anything for higher education,” Newsom said. “It takes pressure off the general fund, sure, but it — from my perspective — does nothing to secure the fate of the UC or CSU system in and of itself.”