Regents Set To Give Final Approval for Fee Hikes

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LOS ANGELES-Members of the UC Board of Regents approved student fee increases for the 2008-09 school year yesterday amid an approximately 100-person protest that led to arrests of more than a dozen students.

The board's Finance Committee passed both a 7 percent educational fee increase and a 10 percent registration fee increase for all students at their meeting this afternoon at UCLA.

Under the increases, set to be approved by the full board tomorrow, resident undergraduate students would pay $7,126 in mandatory systemwide fees while non-resident undergraduate students would pay $7,713. These increases would be effective this summer.

The committee also approved a 5 percent increase in the non-resident undergraduate tuition fee. The increase would raise such fees by $953 to $20,021 and would go into effect fall 2008.

"We will do what we do in order to deliver the best education we can," said UC President Robert Dynes. "The student fees will allow us to deliver the education that we promised them."

The decision caused an uproar among student protesters, who held yellow signs and shouted throughout the discussion. By the time the vote was made, one protestor had already been escorted out by police and 16 more UC students were arrested afterwards on suspicion of willful disturbance of a public meeting, according to Nancy Greenstein, a UCPD spokesperson at UCLA.

"Regents! Regents! Can't you see? You're creating poverty," students shouted immediately following the vote.

Despite the fee raise, Board Chair Richard Blum said financial aid produced from past increases has already been helping students of the lowest income bracket.

"If we do raise fees, money will go to those students who come from low-income families to help them bear the costs of living so that in fact in it would be an advantage for those students," Blum said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revised budget was also released during the meeting. Under the new budget, $98.5 million would be restored to the university, meaning UC would see a net cut of $232.4 million, according to UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

Although Lt. Gov. John Garamendi's resolution to freeze fees for next year did not pass, several regents echoed his concern that fee increases would lead to the privatization of the university.

"I am persuaded that (Garamendi) is right about the impact of continuously raising student fees," said Regent Eddie Island. "I fear privatization. I know it will empty this institution of minorities ... and that would be a tragedy."

The decision to raise UC student fees came just a few hours after the California State Board of Trustees, which oversees the California State University system, also voted to raise student fees by 10 percent.

The meeting today attracted students from all across the UC system, with the largest number coming from UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. While the protestors were enthusiastic about their cause, many said other students probably were unaware of the significance behind the fee increases or simply did not care.

"It's all about apathy," said UCLA freshman Sarah Ball. "Out of a school of 40,000 people, there are about 100 people here. A lot of people don't think they can do anything to change it."

But regardless of finals week at UC Berkeley, ASUC External Affairs Vice President Danny Montes said attending today's regents meeting was crucial for the future of higher education in California.

"I think it's disheartening that education is no longer a priority," Montes said. "We are paying more to go to school but at the same time, we are getting less."


Contact Vincent Quan at [email protected]

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