Reposted from The Berkeley Graduate:
“1-2-3-4 tuition fees are class war! 5-6-7-8 students will retaliate!”
Blue and yellow lights on Wheeler Hall illuminated students chanting in the rain this evening, following a vote today in San Francisco that brings the University of California one step closer to a potential 28% tuition increase.
The UC Board of Regents’ Long-Range Planning Committee approved 7-2 a plan to increase tuition by up to 5% for 5 years, yielding a 28 percent tuition hike, in addition to creating quotas to accept more out-of-state and international students, who pay higher tuition. The two dissenting votescame from Governor Jerry Brown and student Regent Sadia Saifuddin. UC President Janet Napolitano, however, is strongly pushing for this plan, on which the full 24-member Board of Regents will vote tomorrow at UCSF.
A UC Berkeley student was arrested during the UCSF protests today, though campus police stayed several hundred feet away from this evening’s Berkeley event, leaning on a metal blockade near Sather Gate. The highly-organized and collaborative student gathering assembled under the tree on Dwinelle Plaza to share updates and ideas before regrouping into small circles to plan a Statewide Day of Action this coming Monday.
Speakers used a megaphone to share updates from, draw parallels to, and express solidarity with organizing in Palestine, Ayotzinapa, and Ferguson.
The crowd clapped in frustrated agreement when Rasheed Shabazz pointed out the pattern of militarization across these struggles, as the University naming former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to the UC Presidency epitomizes. Shabazz urged: “education is a right, not a privilege: the machine must be stopped…you have to keep organizing!”
Yvette Felarca reported on the Regents’ meeting with optimism: “This is not the end. Tomorrow is not the end. However they vote, it’s just the beginning.” Felarca reminded the audience that although the Regents will probably pass the plan in tomorrow’s vote, that the plan’s implementation is conditional on the University not receiving an additional $91 Million in the State Budget announced December 1st. The sum is relatively insignificant given the State’s full budget, and Governor Brown has so vociferously opposed the fee hike, that he will hopefully use his full influence to secure the necessary additional funds.
How Brown chooses to support students in preventing the fee increases will indicate his true allegiances. Fee hikes represent privatization, a process Brown has previously supported, for example, encouraging the University to privatize through online classes.
Felarca related how thoroughly the peaceful, if passionate, student protests shook the Regents, one of whom “couldn’t believe that the protestors were so angry that people in suits had to fight their way into the room!”
Attesting to student protests’ importance and power, Jasmine Schatz told this reporter, “student apathy is a huge problem on this campus…if we don’t keep showing up they’ll get comfortable and we’ll lose our opportunity to enact change” The second year undergraduate Italian Studies major took BART and Muni over to UCSF early this morning to be there by 6am to protest.
As small groups strategized for the Statewide Day of Action this coming Monday, Felarca remarked that though teach-ins, walk-outs, rallies, and other gatherings would be valuable, “I think we ought to occupy. It is time.”