Repeating History

Fee hikes are inevitable, but students should still be able to count on the UC regents to minimize the increases.

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It's a story that should not be told in the first place. Yet the tale of student fee hikes has become tradition for the University of California, at least in these past few years. While we may be adding to the slew of critiques, there's something to be said about the UC Board of Regents' continual willingness to approve student fee hikes.

In last Thursday's 15-3 vote, a 7 percent increase for all students rolled by with little opposition, save for Lt. Gov. John Garamendi's crusade to freeze fees. Though Regent Eddie Island and Student Regent Ben Allen joined in his efforts, the final decision unquestionably expresses the board's compliance to the state, accepting cuts to higher education rather than standing up for students.

Raising student fees as the quick-fix solution to budget cuts is counterintuitive to the original purpose of the public university system, which was to offer a "free" education with minimal student fees. Accordingly, most of the deficiency in funds should come from tax dollars, not directly from the pockets of students.

But with their nods to the demands of the governor and legislature, any hope for UC leaders to fight on our side has diminished. The gesture to impose higher tuition fees instead of refusing to accept what the state dishes reaffirms, yet again, their penchant for making the easier decision.

As long as the regents are willing to raise fees to compensate for the lack of funding from the state, the go-ahead for making higher education cuts stays in place. Incentive for the legislature to look for other areas where spending could be scrapped disappears when the regents can be counted on to raise student fees as a financial safety valve.

In the end, the message is clear: we'll have to advocate for ourselves if privatization of the UC system is to be halted.






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