The University of California Board of Regents convened at their bi-monthly meeting at UCSF Jan. 24 and 25 to discuss various system-wide issues including tuition hikes.
The meeting opened with comments from the public, which included UC community members expressing concern over cuts for employee training and development as well as the pending vote on tuition increases. Various students gave personal testimonials on how the potential increase would affect their lives and the lives of their peers.
Juniperangelica Cordova, a senior at UC Berkeley, addressed the Regents saying, “After being homeless for six years… I know what poverty means and what it means to also see education as a way out of poverty… The tuition is up for debate because I feel that the Regents, and also anyone in leadership, thinks that it is okay to raise tuition because somehow, someway, these kids will pay for their schooling. The reality is there is no way to pay for my schooling when there’s no money coming in from anywhere.”
An ASUC representative from UC Berkeley, Jillian Free, also spoke at the meeting, saying, “Our campus and our UC system is under crisis. I have seen students set their alarms late in the morning so that they skip breakfast and go to sleep early so they skip dinner. We need you to fight with us… This isn’t just a typical tuition hike. We are under crisis and students need your help.”
In response, Chair of the Board George Kieffer asked for a “deep dive” into financial aid and other systems put in place to alleviate student costs.
“We need to pull that together and see where we have some holes in that system,” he said after the last public comment was received.
Following Keiffer’s comment, Vice Chair John Peréz asked, “Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to have the deep dive on financial aid before we vote to increase tuition?” The comment received a smattering of applause from audience members.
The Board’s scramble to raise tuition comes after California State Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal failed to allocate the expected amount of funding for public higher education. Governor Brown has stated that he felt UC officials must “more creatively engage in the process of making education more affordable.”
This vote on a tuition hike comes a year after the regents approved the end of a six-year tuition freeze, raising costs by 2.5 percent just last year.
Student efforts and testimonies would ultimately convince the Board to delay the vote on the tuition hikes.
In response to the halted vote, Paul Monge, the current Student Regent, wrote on Facebook, “When I woke up this morning… I was certain that just like every tuition increase proposed before, the UC Board of Regents would ignore the cries of UC students and force yet another tuition raise on our backs. I was sure that my vote, as the only voting student on the board, would represent nothing more than a symbolic protest against another misguided fee increase.”
He continued, “But today, hundreds of UC students organized, lobbied other regents, shared experiences of student housing and food insecurity, and we finally won! We stopped the UC Board of Regents from voting for a tuition increase!! While the fight for the accessibility of the UC system is far from over, today we can celebrate the fact that student organizing power made the difference.”
Although the tuition hike has not been completely cleared, the delayed vote allows students and groups to organize further to lobby the regents. Various UCs have started Facebook pages that encourage students to continue to communicate with Board members on the issue.
Other pressing issues facing the UCs were addressed at various committee meetings. At the public engagement and development committee meeting, board members were given updates on UC’s efforts in lobbying the government on issues such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and continuation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Interim Associate Vice President Chris Harrington, who gave the update, said on the issue of DACA, “UC will want to review the final legislative text of any proposal to ensure it offers protections for our DACA recipients and does not have unintended consequences. The university continues to advocate for legislation to protect our DACA recipients.”