At their two-day meeting at UCLA on Wednesday and Thursday, UC Regents voted to approve a fee increase for all UC students, to enter a bid on managing federal labs and to reduce financial aid.

Amid student protest outside and inside the meeting, the UC Regents voted 13 to 1 to increase undergraduate fees by eight percent for the 2005-06 school year. The fee increase would bring annual undergraduate fees to $6,796 for in-state residents. Graduate students will see a 10 percent hike in tuition in their fees for a total average of $8,556 per year. Out-of-state students will see their tuition go up by 5 percent, totaling an average of $24,589 annually.

In response to the decision to raise fees, students attending the meeting took off their shirts and threw them at the Regents, displaying the proverbial “shirts off their backs.”

Bill Schiebler, UCSB Associated Students Finance Board chair, served as a one of four students who was allowed direct interaction with the regents at the conference and gave a short speech.

“I [said], ‘As I’m looking around the room I see a trend here,'” Schiebler said. “‘And I was hoping that you could all just acknowledge the students or at least pretend to pay attention because that’s who you’re here to represent’.”

Twenty-five percent of the revenue generated from the tuition hike will go into financial aid for undergraduates. The amount of money put back into financial aid is more than the 20 percent returned last year, but is still lower than previous years which saw a 33 percent return to financial aid funding. Some regents, including Norman Pattiz, said they found the 25 percent figure upsetting because they thought the UC could come up with such a small amount of money.

“There isn’t any place within the entire University of California system where we can’t find $6 million dollars?” Pattiz said.

The regents also voted to compete for contracts to manage the federal research laboratories in Los Alamos, Berkeley and Livermore. Following a number of highly publicized lapses in security and safety at the facilities, the United States Energy Dept. said last year that it would open bids for management contracts of the laboratories when its agreement with the UC expires in September 2005.

The UC Regents also voted against adding a multiracial classification box to the UC application forms after several national and state organizations argued against it. The multiracial classification would have allowed applicants to define themselves as mixed-race rather than the customary instruction to “check all that apply.”

UCSB External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Felicia Cruz attended the conference and said she agreed with the decision, but noticed a problem with the system.

“Although students are allowed to check all that apply, when it goes into the registrar’s office, they only end up being classified as one race because our systems aren’t up-to-date.” Cruz said. “So they end up being classified as whatever race is more the minority.”