Amid scores of protesters and loads of extra security, the University of California Board of Regents is meeting on campus this week.
Convening in a fenced-off and practically barricaded Corwin Pavilion, the UC’s governing body will be in session through Thursday, July 17. Although most of the topics up for discussion are not exactly hot-button issues — they range from lowering admission standards to dealing with budget woes — agenda items like the oversight of the UC’s national laboratories will likely draw protesters.
In addition to the “normal” protesters — officials say that groups often use regents meetings as a venue for demonstrations against UC policy — this summer’s meeting is also being picketed by about 100 UCSB service workers. The workers, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, have planned a five-day strike against low wages to coincide with the meeting.
The meeting is also the first for new University of California President Mark Yudof, who was appointed earlier this year.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang said it was a privilege to have the president on campus.
“We are especially honored to host this, the first regents meeting of President Mark Yudof, and to have the opportunity to welcome him and his wife, Judy, to our campus,” Yang said.
Day one went off almost without a hitch, officials said. Although at least 100 members and supporters of AFSCME chanted and picketed outside of Corwin Pavilion, UC Police Department chief Bill Bean said there were no arrests and that protesters were “actually pretty cooperative.”
While a few people slated to speak during Tuesday’s public comment session refused to cross the picket line, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Paul Desruisseaux said the union members did not disrupt the meeting. And despite the noise, Yang said he understood the protest and hoped for a speedy solution to the problem.
“Regarding the protest [on Tuesday], I want to say that I appreciate the dedication and contributions of our service workers who have helped make such a good learning and living environment for all of us to share on this campus,” Yang said. “The well-being of our service workers is very important to all of us.”
Inside Corwin Pavilion Tuesday, the regents’ grounds and buildings committee met to approve and discuss various construction projects on UC campuses across California. The meeting was sparsely attended, and the public comment session was tame, with speakers focusing on UC medical aid to underdeveloped nations and diversity at UCLA.
Privately, UC employees said they expected the meetings to become more boisterous as the week continues, and protesters — both from AFSCME and from organizations like UC Nuclear Free — have vowed to continue demonstrating.
The full of board of regents will meet Wednesday and Thursday. What follows is an amended agenda.
Wednesday, July 16
At 8:30 a.m., the full board will meet for a public comment period scheduled to last an hour. Afterward, the board will discuss educational policy, which includes a plan to lower admission standards for incoming freshmen. However, according to the University of California Office of the President, no decision will be made concerning the admissions policy.
At 11:30 a.m., the regents will hear from the committee on Oversight of the Dept. of Energy Laboratories. They will listen to updates about activities at the Berkeley, Livermore and Los Alamos national laboratories.
Later in the afternoon, the regents will discuss employee salary actions, personnel and investment matters in closed committee meetings. Additionally on Wednesday, UCSB graduate student Jesse Bernal will officially be appointed student regent for 2008-09.
Thursday, July 17
The full board will meet at 8:30 a.m. for public comment and will continue in open session until the afternoon. They will discuss accountability in the UC system, as well as the state and UC budget.
At 12:15 p.m., the board will consider creating a new UC medical school at the Riverside campus.