Students oppose fee increases as Regents discuss long-term funding options

A discussion among the UC Board of Regents seeking a stabilized plan for university funding has led students to voice their opposition against new fee increases.

At their meeting last week, the Regents explored the option of a multi-year budget plan, which in the absence of an increase in state funding, could increase fees to a rate of up to 16 percent a year.  According to a UC press release, Regents are looking for alternatives to the plan in an effort to minimize tuition increases.

“We’re at a point where we need to do something to bring in revenue, more specifically reform Prop. 13, which deals with the way California taxes are distributed,” said Claudia Magana, president of the UC Student Association and fourth year student at UC Santa Cruz. “People are kind of used to the fee increases now, and there’s kind of an ‘oh, again’ feeling, but the reality is we can’t afford to pay a couple extra thousand dollars each year.”

The possibility of another fee increase has concerned students that the higher price of education could directly affect the face of the student body.

“I think that a fee increase would exclude a lot of people on campus, and it wouldn’t exclude people equally,” said Callie Maidhof, a UC Berkeley graduate student and student organizer. “Fee increases would result in wealthier students, less students of color, and overall a less diverse campus.”

Steve Montiel, spokesperson for the UC Office of the President, stressed that tuition increases were simply a discussion topic at the Regents meeting, and not an official proposal.

“There was discussion of a multi-year funding plan that would include scenarios of tuition increases, but there are no proposed tuition inreases,” Montiel said. “As long as the state keeps cutting funding, it’s going to be difficult for the university. A number of possibilities for raising revenues were discussed.”

There has been speculation from students that the lack of funding lies within a mismanagement of tuition money by the university.

“There’s tons of wealth in the state that is not being allocated properly,” said Shannon Ikebe, a graduate student at UC Berkeley. “Our administration and professors shouldn’t be paid as much as they are, because these monetary wastes are most directly affecting the education of our youth.”

Others found the source of the university’s financial woes to be at the state level.

“The problem lies in the state — universities are not being given enough money in the first place, and cutting budget and increasing tuition is not the answer,” said Joe Hedlind, a second year student at UC Berkeley. “We need to work to make public education more public and more democratically-run. It’s not our responsibility to pay for the financial issues of the state and the university.”

According to Montiel, the university has already taken measures to increase savings through improving efficiencies and utilizing alternate revenues.

“Faculty positions have gone unfilled, salaries are consistently behind market rates, we’ve reduced faculty hiring, and there are larger class sizes,” he said. “State funding has decreased so much.”

The Regents are scheduled to meet again in mid-November, where further plans for the budget will be discussed.