domingo, novembro 22, 2009

Third day of fee protests at California Universities

Demonstrators entered their third day of a building takeover at UC Santa Cruz on Saturday in protest of a tuition increase, an undertaking that a school spokesman called futile.

The occupation of Kerr Hall is just one of several demonstrations across University of California campuses this week after the regent's board approved a 32 percent increase in tuition Thursday.

University officials said the $505 million to be raised by the tuition increases is needed to prevent even deeper cuts than those already made due to California's persistent financial crisis.

Protesting students said the increase will hurt working and middle-class students who benefit from state-funded education.

On the Santa Cruz campus, where building occupations began last week with a library sit-in, about 100 students staged a sit-in in the second-floor lobby of Kerr Hall soon after hearing that the tuition increase had been approved, according to UC Santa Cruz Provost David Kliger.

The students made a list of 20 "demands" detailing how they want the administration to increase funding, spokesman Barry Shiller said. But the school has no plans to negotiate the demands with the student body, he said. The school just doesn't have the money, he added.

School officials hope the students realize that their demonstration is "not accomplishing anything" and is "just a disruption" to administrative duties on campus, he said.

The administration will continue to wait out the takeover, but Shiller said he is unsure of how long it will last. The school hopes the students will leave voluntarily, he said.

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Meanwhile, uprisings on other campuses have quieted since earlier mass demonstrations.

At UC Berkeley on Friday night, 41 protesters occupying a building were arrested. Authorities decided to cite them for trespassing and release them rather than take them to jail, per an agreement with student leaders, school spokeswoman Claire Holmes said. Three students were arrested there Friday morning.

Fifty-two students were arrested at UC Davis late Thursday after they refused to vacate the school's administration building.

And UCLA's Campbell Hall was occupied for several hours Thursday evening.

The angry students are condemning a nearly $2,000 tuition increase.

The first change, which takes effect in January, will raise undergraduate tuition to $8,373. The second increase kicks in next fall, raising tuition to $10,302, university spokeswoman Leslie Sepuka said.

Students who live on campus could pay an estimated $17,200 in additional fees that include the annual cost of books and housing, according to the system's July 2008 finance guide.

The January increase of about 15 percent is more than double the average public university tuition increase last year.

On average, tuition and fees at four-year public universities nationwide increased 6.5 percent, or to $7,020, since the previous school year, according to data from College Board.

Students eligible for financial aid and whose families make less than $70,000 will have their tuition covered, the university said.

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