UCLA Protests Escalate As Fee Hikes Approved

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Correction Appended

LOS ANGELES-A demonstration Thursday by about 2,000 protesters at UCLA centered around the passage of a 32 percent student fee hike by the UC Board of Regents.

After the regents concluded their meeting at UCLA, about 1,000 demonstrators, most of them students, surrounded the meeting venue as hundreds of UCPD officers and members of the California Highway Patrol donning riot gear and rubber bullet rifles established a security perimeter in front of the them.

The perimeter ultimately broke the picket line, allowing administrators, including UC President Mark Yudof, to exit the area in several white vans after briefly being surrounded by the crowd.

UC officers tasered at least two UCLA students in order to clear a road for two vans transporting administrators away from the building. A statement by UCLA said two people were "observed receiving treatment for exposure to pepper spray."

Janelle Viray, one of the two students who was tasered, said that the police used excessive force.

"We just hooked arms and then the police came and they physically moved us away and we maintained our silence," Viray said. "We didn't try to attack them."

At least one student was arrested for obstructing a police officer Thursday but was later cited and released, according to the statement, and about 30 to 50 students locked themselves inside a campus building, a move that led to the cancellation of classes.

The demonstrations were part of a systemwide strike to protest the fee increases, which will bring the total cost of a UC education to more than $10,000 per year for the first time. Resident undergraduates will pay $585 more in fees in spring 2010 and $9,402 next fall, in addition to the $900 systemwide registration fee.

During a public comment period Thursday, UC students and staff continued efforts to convince the full board to reverse the Committee on Finance's passage of the increase.

"Yesterday I had to choose between going to work to pay for my fees or coming here to protest this fee increase," said UC Irvine senior Olivia Lee, a political science major. "Does anyone see anything wrong with that? ... So many students can't afford college anymore."

But following the vote, Yudof said that financial aid and the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan will cover the fees of students whose family incomes are less than $70,000. He added that many students may be unaware of financial aid resources and that any low-income students whose fees are not being covered should contact him.

"I think our students are very clever and they will find this stuff," he said. "But the onus is on us to take out advertisements or contact them personally or to go on the Internet."

Many UCLA students interview on the campus said they were unable to attend the demonstrations because the campus was in the eighth week of its nine-week academic quarter and many students are focused on their own personal lives.

"It was a very poor time in our schedule," said Angela Arunarsirakul. "Some people couldn't afford to lose that class time (while) some students ae not as informed as they could be."

Tags: NOVEMBER STRIKE, UC BOARD OF REGENTS, BUDGET CUTS, STUDENT FEE INCREASES

Correction: Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The original version of the article misspelled Janelle Viray's name.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Zach E. J. Williams is the assistant university news editor. Contact him at [email protected]



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