SACRAMENTO — UC students dressed as inmates in a “debtor’s prison” interrupted Wednesday’s UC Board of Regents meeting as the board began to discuss a report critiquing UC campus responses to student protests.
The board moved into closed session as about 20 protesters stood up and circled the public seating area while chanting. “That’s the sound of the students working on the chain gang,” protesters chanted.
Regents moved to another room to discuss closed session items that would otherwise have been saved for after the lunch break, said UC spokesperson Lynn Tierney.
The regents were entering discussion of the report on the response to protest on UC campuses drafted by UC Vice President and General Counsel Charles Robinson and UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley.
UC spokesperson Peter King said the regents will resume their discussion of the protest report after lunch.
Mandy Cohen, a UC Berkeley graduate student in comparative literature and one of the protesters who interrupted the meeting, called the public comment portion meetings “a joke,” and said that protesters want the regents to address their concerns directly.
Several protesters spoke during public comment and raised concerns over the UC’s accountability. Protesters acted out being arrested by various UC regents as they finished their comments.
The regents are meeting in Sacramento for the first time since 1993 in the hopes of drumming up support for the financially strapped university system, which was just dealt further funding cuts in Gov. Jerry Brown revised budget proposal.
The UC is asking Brown and state lawmakers to increase funding to the UC by $125 million for the next fiscal year in order to avoid a 6 percent fee hike later in the summer. Students and regents are also meeting personally with over 50 members of the legislature over the course of the week, according to UC officials.
Sherry Lansing, chair of the board, said earlier in the meeting that she is encouraged by the UC’s overall treatment in Brown’s latest budget, which proposes deep cuts to the state’s safety net to bridge a nearly $16 billion budget gap.
“As we all know, UC is an engine of opportunity and innovation that benefits every resident of this state,” Lansing said. “What is at stake here affects all of us, not just UC students and their families, but every Californian.”