Approximately 150 students from several UC campuses gathered outside the UC Regents meeting Thursday in protest of a proposed tuition hike, forcing the Regents to table its approval until January.
The Regents proposed a $280 annual tuition increase for UC students in order to fund more resources for the rising number of students attending UCs. Ralph Washington Jr., UC Davis UC Student Association President, and Erica Perez, UC Riverside Campus Action chair, planned a protest upon hearing of the increase.
Washington said the protest was successful in its goal to “bring attention to student perspective,” but the Regents’ decision will be unknown until the meeting in January.
The protest began at 8 a.m. with protestors gathered outside the building and chanting at the Regents as they entered. Protesters employed four basic tactics: a banner drop, human chain, spelling out S.O.S. and camping in tents outside the meeting.
“We want to make sure students are comfortable at all levels,” Erica Perez said. “Not everyone can come out to say what we do; we’re out there for those that can’t be there.”
To ensure the wellbeing of students, a “wellness leader” handed out water and snacks to protesters.
Tensions increased during the meeting when Regents attempted to cut it short, much to the dismay of any protesters who had bussed overnight to attend the meeting. Regent John Perez suggested holding another open comment period to hear student concerns, but was denied.
“Things could have easily been smoother if they allowed the students to make a public comment,” Erica Perez said. “They constantly make decisions for us; we need to be included in these conversations all the time.”
“The hope is that we adopt a conversation,” Washington said. “Many students face basic needs insecurity.”
The UC Food Security and Access Study conducted by the Regents found nearly 20 percent of students face food insecurity, with 42 percent of students in the UC system reporting they had experienced a decrease in quality or intake of food in the last 12 months.
“It’s a conspicuous problem,” Washington said.
“You have to either think about buying food or paying tuition,” Erica Perez said. “We should not be thinking about sacrificing things to get a higher education … our needs as students aren’t being met, and that’s what frustrates us.”
Erica Perez and Washington both emphasized the importance of protesting to express student beliefs.
“I definitely believe that protests can have an affect on a political agenda, and sometimes this is what our education looks like,” Erica Perez said. “Organizing gives you a voice; protests are able to give you a voice where you can express yourself the way you want to.”
The protest has been in the planning stages for two months, with weekly conference calls involving several students across the UC. Students discussed logistics and tactics to increase students’ comfort and efficiency as protestors.
“I think that’s beautiful, just to see that students are taking the time,” Erica Perez said in reference to the long meetings. “We don’t see it as work because, when you organize, it’s the passion, it’s something you love to do.”
Despite Regents tabling the discussion on tuition hikes, the UCSB Student Activist Network will be holding a walkout on Monday to make a statement that tabling the discussion is not enough, and that students want a rollback on tuition prices. Students across the UC system will leave their classes, and students at UCSB will gather under Storke Tower to express their disapproval.
Correction: The photo caption incorrectly said the protest was in 2015, not 2014.