UC regents tuition hike meeting disrupted by protesters


What began as a quite meeting was disrupted by a couple dozen protesters dressed in orange prison uniforms to illustrate that they feel imprisoned with debt trying to keep up with tuition hikes.

With watchful police on stand-by, the board decided to take up the closed session agenda items at an undisclosed location after the demonstrators refused to stop chanting and clapping their hands.

Students want the regents to stand up to the state more and demand additional funding. Another 6 percent tuition hike is on the table, bringing rates from $731 to $12,923 -- double what it was five years ago.

"They've shown time and time again that they don't really care about the interests of students," said Cheryl Deutsch, a UCLA graduate student

UC says the meeting is in Sacramento so they could ask lawmakers for more money.

"We will have hope we can get the legislature and the governor to agree to buy out the tuition, to come up with $125 million so there would not have to be a tuition increase," said University of California spokesman Peter King.

Protesters are also upset more non-Californians are being admitted to the UC system -- 43 percent more international and out-of-state students are in next year's freshman class than last year. Their tuition is even more than in-state students.

State Sen. Michael Rubio introduced a constitutional amendment to limit enrollment from outside California to just 10 percent on each campus. It's about one-third at competitive schools like Berkeley and UCLA.

"We want to make sure that our kids have a chance to go to the flagship, best universities that this state has to offer. Right now, the current system puts them at the back of the line, and that's not fair," said Rubio.

"Since they pay full freight, they do fund, in a way, California students," said King.

As Californians, Cesar Pizano and his mom just want opportunities to make their lives better, but that seems unattainable with costly tuition and fewer slots.

"They tell us to work hard and you get to a university. OK. But now they're saying if you don't have money, you're not going to get to a university," said Pizano, who hopes to attend a UC school.

Administrators say if voters reject the governor's tax initiative in November, UC might need to consider a double-digit tuition increase, which could trigger another round of painful cuts.

The UC regents will probably vote on the tuition hike in July when they know how much the state budget will give schools. Sen. Rubio hopes to get his enrollment cap on a November ballot.

Meanwhile, the UC regents did approve a compensation package for the new UC San Diego chancellor. He will now make about 5 percent more than the previous chancellor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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