Students try to block UC regents from tuition vote

AP Photo/The U-T San Diego

Student protesters tried to block members of the University of California's governing board from a meeting Wednesday to consider a tuition increase during each of the next five years.

University police pushed the students back behind barricades after they surrounded the regents as they tried to enter the conference center at the University of California, Mission Bay.

The students shouted, “Go home, go home,” and “UC, UC, our tuition must be free.”

Other protesters formed a human chain in the parking lot to prevent regents from getting in.

A nine-member, Board of Regents committee began the meeting later and was expected to consider annual tuition increases of 5 percent between 2015 and 2019 unless the state gives the system more money. The full board is set to consider the proposal Thursday.

Tuition rates at the 10 UC schools have been frozen for three years. Under the plan recommended by UC President Janet Napolitano, the average annual cost of a UC education for California residents would go up $612 to $12,804 next fall and to $15,564 in fall 2019.

Protest rallies were held Tuesday at several campuses.

Kevin Sabo, who attends UC Berkeley and chairs the UC Student Association board, said student leaders already are preparing to lobby the governor and Legislature for additional funding to stave off or reduce a possible increase next year.

“We don't want to raise tuition, but we need as trustees, for the welfare of the university now and in the future, to tell the policy makers and the public what is required to keep this university great,” Regent George Kieffer, a lawyer, said before the meeting.

Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown, who opposes the tuition hike, also sit on the board's long-range planning committee. So does student Regent Sadia Saifuddin, who is expected to vote against the plan.

Other voting members include an alumni representative, two regents named to the board by Brown, and three more who, like Kieffer, were appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and have backed previous tuition increases.

Napolitano, a former Arizona governor who served as President Barack Obama's first Homeland Security secretary, “is very much trying to show the regents she can stand up to the golden boy of California — Jerry Brown,” Sabo said.

“It certainly is the clash of the titans, and students are being caught in between these two very larger than life individuals and trying not to get crushed between them,” Sabo said.

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