Regents Approve Systemwide Fee Increases
Friday, November 19, 2010
Category: News > University > Higher Education
SAN FRANCISCO - For the fourth time in three years, the UC Board of Regents voted to increase systemwide fees, driving the cost to attend the university up to $11,124 - 224 percent higher than it was 10 years ago.
Meeting at UC San Francisco, some members of the board initially expressed reluctance about increasing systemwide fees again, but many reversed their position after officials from the UC Office of the President gave a presentation detailing the UC's $1 billion budget shortfall. UC President Mark Yudof also mentioned the likelihood of future cuts from the state, which faces its own $25 billion gap in the next two years.
Still, five regents - Odessa Johnson, Charlene Zettel, Darek DeFreece, Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and Student Regent Jesse Cheng - voted against the 8 percent increase and its accompanying expansion in financial aid. Last November, only one regent voted against the 32 percent fee hike.
The board also approved a slew of professional degree fees at schools across the system, including a 9 percent and 12 percent increase at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and School of Law, respectively. UCSF School of Nursing saw the highest increase at 31 percent. The board also voted to change the name of the educational fee to tuition.
Despite students' pleas and protests, Yudof said the increases - and the $116 million in net revenue it brings - are necessary to help cover the university's increasing costs, which will total $365.9 million in the next fiscal year. Of that number, $182.3 million will go toward recently reinstated pension contributions for UC retirees. He also added that a simultaneous expansion of the UC's financial aid would offset the effects of the fee increases, though many students said that would mean taking out more loans.
During the meeting's public comment period, students voiced passionate opposition to the increases. UC Berkeley senior Ratha Lai excoriated the regents, calling the increase "another nail in the coffin of thousands of students being buried alive."
"It's not going to be sustainable in the long term," said Sonja Diaz, a student at the UC Berkeley School of Law, about the regents resorting to fee increases for funding. "Alternative solutions would be to obviously cut from the top - administration in the UC is bloated."
Other than those who spoke directly to the board, no other students came to the meeting, a stark contrast to Wednesday's tumultuous demonstration, which drew 300 to UCSF and ended in 13 arrests - including one UC Merced student charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
UC officials allege that UC Merced student Peter Howell struck a UCPD officer during a melee with protesters. The officer then dropped his baton, unholstered his gun and pointed it at a crowd of protesters. As of Thursday, Howell was still in custody and had no court day set, police said.
Regent George Marcus said he came to the meeting with the "full intention" of voting against the fee increase, but changed his mind after UC officials outlined the scope of the UC's budget shortfall. Regent Eddie Island was also among those who initially questioned the increase but ultimately voted for it.
Maldonado, who voted against the increase, said the university had not exhausted all avenues to bridge its gap before turning to fee increases. John Perez, speaker of the state Assembly and an ex-officio regent, did not attend the meeting but sent Assemblymember Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, on his behalf to deliver the board a letter opposing the fee increase.
UC officials said absent of state financial support for the university's rising costs, fees could continue to rise. During the meeting, Regent Richard Blum, who previously served as chair of the board, said that the board should not be blamed for increasing fees.
"I find it annoying that we see two letters from the state Assembly saying don't increase fees ... when they are in fact where the rubber meets the road," Blum said.
Jessica Gillotte of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.
Javier Panzar is the lead higher education reporter. Contact him at email@example.com.
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