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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Students Taking Action at UCLA Against the Fee Increase

Articles REPOSTED from LA Times

Hundreds rally at UCLA to protest expected 32% increase in student fees

A second day of protests roiled the UCLA campus today as the UC regents prepared to approve a 32% increase in student fees.

Groups of UC students from several other campuses arrived in Westwood to join a noisy demonstration against the fee hike, and a group of protesters was occupying a UCLA classroom building.

UCLA officials declared Campbell Hall, where the sit-in continued, closed for the day. Inside, about 40 to 50 students had chained the doors shut shortly after midnight and were issuing e-mail statements.

“We choose to fight back, to resist, where we find ourselves, the place where we live and work, our university,” their statement said. Campus police surrounded the classroom building, but no arrests were made.

Meanwhile, across campus, a crowd of several hundred gathered outside Covel Commons, where the regents were meeting. Students and UC employees chanted such slogans as “Whose university? Our university!”Among them was Tommy Le, a fourth-year student at UC Santa Cruz, who left his campus at 3 a.m. today in a convoy of two buses headed south. Le, 21, an American studies major from El Monte, said he was worried about how he being able to afford the higher charges, starting with an additional $585 for the rest of the school year.

“It’s adding more stress and more burden,” said Le, who said he works two part-time jobs and sends.money home to help his family. The fee increase, he said, would be “a lose-lose situation.”

The full Board of Regents is expected to approve a fee hike of $2,500, or 32%, in two steps by next fall. That would bring the basic UC education fees to about $10,300, plus about another $1,000 for campus-based charges, for a total that would be about triple the UC cost a decade ago. Room, board and books can add another $16,000.

-- Larry Gordon

Photo: Chanel Nealon, center left, and Hyacinth Noble join other UCLA students, faculty and workers in a demonstration at UCLA's Covel Commons to protest fee increases that are expected to be approved today by the UC Board of Regents. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Students storm UCLA building to protest expected UC system fee increase [Updated]

About 30 students stormed UCLA’s Campbell Hall and barricaded the doors with chains and bike locks early this morning to protest a student fee increase that is expected to be endorsed by the University of California’s Board of Regents today.

[Updated at 8:39 a.m.: The UC Regents have started to meet, and hundreds of students have surrounded the building, protesting the proposed fee hike.]

Students who spent the night were sprawled outside Campbell Hall in sleeping bags. They carried posters and signs that read, “Don’t take our education away” and “Don’t privatize, democratize.” Many wore bandannas over their faces.

Dozens of other students spent the night camped out in tents on top of Parking Structure 4. Hundreds of other students are expected to join the protesters and demonstrate at the UC Regents meeting that will take place later today.

The proposed two-step student fee increase would raise UC undergraduate education costs more than $2,500, or 32%.The annual cost of a UC education, not including campus-based fees would rise to $10,302.

Kyle Tramberly, a junior at UC San Diego, said he did not sleep since arriving at UCLA late Wednesday night.

“I’m here in solidarity with people across the state of California that are being subjugated to these outrageous fee increases,” he said. “I can’t afford the fee increases, personally. I have to take out private loans in order to cover this. It’s completely unjust to put the burden on students.”

A key committee of the UC Regents backed the two-step hike Wednesday, despite appeals from students who urged the board to at least postpone a vote. About 500 student and labor-union activists demonstrated outside the meeting. Fourteen were arrested.

-- My-Thuan Tran

Photo: Students march in front of Covel Commons at UCLA, where regents will be voting on a fee increase later in the day. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times