Protestors arrested at UC Regents meeting

September 24, 2009 5:16:18 PM PDT
More than a dozen demonstrators protesting fee hikes, layoffs and furloughs were arrested Wednesday morning after a dramatic interruption at a University of California Regents meeting in San Francisco.

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Much of the two-day regents meeting is to be focused on financial issues, but it was the topic of student fee hikes that really caused tempers to flare.

The chanting of at least 50 people took over just after the UC Regents meeting began. The situation escalated from the crowd yelling "Yudof, layoff" to a shoving match between protestors and UC police.

Officers arrested 14 people for unlawful assembly and trespassing.

Before the chaos broke out, a few speakers had the opportunity to share their thoughts with the 26 member Board of Regents.

"Thousands and thousands of employees across the state voted a no-confidence vote for President Mark Yudof and his poor leadership and the decision-making here," one said.

Both UC employees and students shared their anger over the UC's plans to fill a budget shortfall of more than $750 for this year and the next. Some voiced anger over recent layoffs and a furlough plan for up to 26 days without pay.

"Well, I'm upset because a couple of my coworkers have been laid off, friends of mine that have been laid off and then the fee hikes, I'm really upset about that," UC Berkeley library employee Katherine Renfro said.

Protestors both outside and inside the meeting are also upset that Yudof is proposing a two-phase student fee hike of at least 30 percent to help raise revenue.

"It's just outrageous that you could conceive of a fee hike of this magnitude, particularly when you have so much money, you have the $5.5 billion in reserves," one speaker at the meeting said.

UC says it is a myth that it has a stash of unrestricted net assets, they say much of that money is already committed.

Yudof says the budget crisis has really been driven by an increasing lack of state funding.

"The state has backed out, it has been unreliable partner for 20 years and the students are paying the price," Yudof said. "I'm sorry they're paying the price, but at the end of the day there are very few sources of money."

While the regents will discuss the proposed student fee hikes, they will not vote on it until November.

The protests are not ending, either. Students and faculty are planning a system-wide walkout a week from Thursday to protest how UC is handling the budget crisis.

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