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UC students, faculty walk out of class

September 24, 2009 5:52:51 AM PDT
Thousands of students, faculty members and other employees of the University of California system protested budget cuts Thursday across the state.Demonstrations took place at 10 campuses including UCLA in Westwood and UC Riverside.

Today is the first day of instruction for most UC campuses.

At issue are layoffs, staff pay cuts, mandatory furloughs and increases in tuition fees.

"It's everything, it's furloughs, it's layoffs, it's cutting education, it's cutting research. It's trying to balance the budget on the backs of the people who run this place," said UCLA researcher Lynn Kesler who was one of the people who turned out to demonstrate on the Westwood campus.

"Today is a day of solidarity," said UC Riverside junior and protester John Fahim. "We're trying to get the voice of the students heard. A lot of students don't know how much they're increasing, a lot of people don't know that they are increasing."

Many students were not only upset about the fee hikes solely on principle. They were also concerned with how they were going to come up with the additional funds. Many are already living off student loans and other forms of financial aid and acknowledged money is already tight as it is.

"It's going to be very difficult for me to cope with fee increases mid-year which I haven't been able to budget for or apply for outside funding for," UCLA student Dan Lichtenstein-Boris said.

"I definitely have to try to apply for more scholarships here because I barely have enough financial aid, " said UCLA student Richard Hawkins.

The sentiment was similar at the UC Riverside campus.

"If the fee hike were to go up, that means I would have to work and how would I balance work and college? It's my freshman year this year," said UC Riverside student and demonstrator Annie Chow.

But some say the UC Regents are being unfairly targeted. The school system needs to grapple with a dramatic loss of revenue.

" We all have to sacrifice right now, this is not a UC problem. This is a much broader national, if not global issue," said Petrina Long, a member of the UCLA staff.

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