UC Board of Regents discusses Upper Hearst Project, tuition hike at meeting

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The UC Board of Regents’ Finance and Capital Strategies Committee discussed UC Berkeley’s Upper Hearst Project and voted affirmatively to pass a proposed nonresident tuition hike to the regents Wednesday — part of the greater regents meeting at UCLA from March 12 to 14.

The committee heard the plans to transform the Upper Hearst parking lot into buildings that will house the Goldman School of Public Policy, provide student housing and contain parking spaces. The committee also decided to pass a proposed 2.6 percent tuition hike for nonresident undergraduate students to the regents for voting Thursday.

“(The Upper Hearst Project) will allow us to keep pace with the demand of our degree programs and provide adequately scaled space for teaching, research and public outreach,” said Henry Brady, the dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, during the committee meeting.

Currently, the Goldman School of Public Policy is scattered throughout campus, and the Upper Hearst Parking Structure has a series of infrastructural flaws. The Upper Hearst Project would remedy both sets of challenges while addressing campus community needs, according to UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor of Finance Rosemarie Rae.

The proposal calls for two buildings to stand in the place of the Upper Hearst parking lot. The first building, which could be up to four stories tall, is intended to serve the Goldman School of Public Policy and will contain offices, classrooms and event spaces.

The second building will provide 150 units of housing and about 170 parking spaces.

The committee also agreed to pass a vote about the proposed tuition hike of 2.6 percent for nonresident undergraduate students to the regents after much opposition voiced during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“I think we can all agree that accessibility and affordability remain key values of the university,” said UC President Janet Napolitano during the open session. “I think keeping tuition flat next year (for residents) is the right thing to do for California students and their families.”

If passed, the tuition increase would provide UC campuses with $29.8 million, which would be allocated toward increasing degree attainment, closing achievement gaps, improving student access to mental health services and providing services for UC faculty and staff.

Many of those who opposed, however, claimed that the tuition hike goes against the UC system’s commitment to diversity and that it would be harmful to nonresident students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, including those who are out of state and undocumented.

“We especially cannot forget about nonresident students who are low-income, middle class, including many undocumented students,” said campus junior and ASUC State Affairs Director Varsha Sarveshwar at the meeting. “We, as in-state students, don’t want to see nonresident students, our classmates, our colleagues, our friends being pushed out of this university.”

Mallika Seshadri is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.