Students prepare to rally against plan to increase tuition

Michael Drummond/File
Protesters attend the September meeting of the UC Board of Regents. On Wednesday, the regents will vote on proposed tuition increases.

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A coalition of campus groups will rally at Sather Gate on Tuesday to demonstrate against the university’s plan to increase tuition over the next five years, along with other protesting groups across the UC system.

At the UC Board of Regents meeting at the UCSF Mission Bay campus Wedneday, the regents will vote on proposed 5-percent increases in tuition and fees annually over the next five years, if state funding remains at 4 percent. Students from various UC campuses will be bussed to the meeting to demonstrate against the plan.

The rally and march, hosted by the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President, will begin at 12:30 p.m. The event aims to raise awareness of the proposal, according to Margaret Mary Downey, a head steward of United Auto Workers Local 2865, the union representing UC student-workers that is participating in the rally.

“Students are sacrificing their time and well being to let the regents know that this is not OK,” said Spencer Pritchard, CalSERVE chair. “We’ve been able to stop fee hikes in 2011 when students protested. It’s possible if enough students show up and email the regents.”

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email that she anticipates the rally will be peaceful.

Before the rally, Fossil Free Cal will be hosting a mock regents meeting at noon at Sather Gate, according to Jake Soiffer, field organizer for the California Student Sustainability Coalition. At the mock meeting, Soiffer said in an email, students will dress up as regents and address students asking for decreased tuition and divestment in fossil fuels.

Protesters will also speak and demonstrate at the Wednesday regents meeting. Students from UC Berkeley will be driven to the meeting in buses with the help of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, said Caitlin Quinn, external affairs vice president.

“We will also have students studying in public spaces to show that we’re still students and still trying to get through all our classes despite all this,” Quinn said in an email, adding that demonstrators plan to be at the scene when the regents arrive.

According to UC Office of the President spokesperson Brooke Converse, a 30-minute public comment period will be held at the start of the meeting.

Kevin Sabo, University of California Student Association board chair, said students from UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Riverside also plan to attend.

“We want to show the regents that students are not children and not incapable of advocating to the UC and state government that we have the organizational capacity … to make change,” Sabo said. “We hope that the regents leave the meeting knowing it was a mistake to leave students out of the process.”

UCSA created a petition against the tuition increase that garnered more than 10,000 signatures as of Monday.

According to Olivia Lichterman, a UAW 2865 member, a general assembly will begin at Sather Gate at 5 p.m. after the regents meeting to allow community members to organize and channel frustrations regarding the tuition increase plan through an open forum.

Rallies will also take place at other UC campuses tomorrow.

At UC Davis, various groups plan to protest the tuition plan and occupy an administration building, said Harley Litzelman, director of the UC Davis student government’s office of advocacy and student representation.

Contact Sierra Stalcup at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SierraStalcup.