UCLA Riot over More Fee Hikes

Posted on November 19, 2009

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Student Fee Hike Fuels Mass UCLA Protest

Some Students Block Exit from Building Where Vote to Hike Fees 32% Took Place; Police in Riot Gear

Protesters at UCLA breifly prevented people from leaving a building where University of California regents approved a hefty student fee increase.

University spokesman Phil Hampton said chains of demonstrators had linked arms to block the exits on Thursday afternoon, with some regents spending up to two hours inside. The crowd dispersed Thursday evening.

Demonstrators were confronted by lines of baton-wielding campus police, California Highway Patrol officers and metal barriers.

Hampton said he couldn’t confirm any injuries, but television footage showed at least one person being treated after being sprayed by an unknown substance.

Hundreds of students demonstrated as University of California leaders voted to approve a 32 percent hike in undergraduate fees, arguing the increase is crucial because of the state’s budget crisis.

 

The UC Board of Regents, meeting at UCLA, approved a two-phase increase that will boost the average undergraduate fee $2,500 by next fall. That would bring the average annual cost to about $10,300 – a threefold increase in a decade.

After a series of deep cuts in state aid, and with state government facing a nearly $21 billion budget gap over the next year and a half, regents said there was no option to higher fees.

Outside the meeting hall, demonstrators chanted, beat drums and hoisted signs opposing the fee increase while UC campus police in face shields and California Highway Patrol officers with beanbag-shooting guns stood watch.

The protest, which briefly spilled onto busy streets off campus, was noisy but peaceful. One person was arrested. She was cited for obstructing and officer and released, University of California, Los Angeles, said spokesman Phil Hampton.

There were 14 arrests on Wednesday.

Other protesters on Thursday took over an ethnic studies classroom building at the other end of campus, chaining the doors shut and forcing cancellation of classes. However, they were peaceful and were allowed to remain, Hampton said.

Many students from other campuses flocked to UCLA to join the protests, staying overnight in a campus tent city.

Laura Zavala, 20, a third-year UCLA student, said she may have to get a second job to afford the increase. “My family can’t support me. I have to pay myself,” she said. “It’s not fair to students, when they are already pinched.”

Ayanna Moody, a second-year prelaw student, said she might have to return to community college next year. “I worked so hard to be at one of the most prestigious universities. To have to go back, it’s very depressing,” she said.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Moody said of the fee increase. “They’ve already cut out a lot of our majors and programs. I’d rather they cut some of their (administrator) salaries.”

Demonstrations also were held at other UC campuses. UC President Mark Yudof said Wednesday he couldn’t rule out raising student fees again if the state is unable to meet his request for an additional $913 million next year for the 10-campus system.

“I can’t make any … promises,” he said.

(via CBS)

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