UC Board of Regents approves Upper Hearst Development project

Leonie Leonida/Staff

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The UC Board of Regents met Wednesday to approve the Upper Hearst Development project and provide “very badly needed space” for the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy.

During the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee meeting, the board approved amendment four of the 2020 Long Range Development Plan, or LRDP, which includes plans for the Upper Hearst Development project. This project aims to create 150 apartment units for campus faculty as well as provide an additional 37,000 square feet of office, classroom and event space for the Goldman School of Public Policy, according to Chancellor Carol Christ.

During the public comment section of the board meeting, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín cited the conclusions of the supplemental environmental impact report, or SEIR, as “contrary to common sense” and said the Upper Hearst Development project was an effort by the university to “avoid the responsibility” of unplanned student population growth.

The campus released a draft SEIR in February that included updates to the campus’s LRDP and the proposed Upper Hearst Development project. The SEIR also includes an updated population baseline that reflects the current campus head count for the 2017-18 school year — over 7,000 students more than the LRDP’s original predictions for the year 2020.

Berkeley City Councilmember and former ASUC external affairs vice president Rigel Robinson noted that though enrollment growth is a “beautiful thing,” the enrollment growth has only exacerbated the student housing and basic needs crises.

“As California grows, I want our campuses to grow, too,” Robinson said at the meeting. “But we cannot pretend that those additional students do not have basic needs.”

Also discussed at Wednesday’s meeting was the board’s pending vote on the proposed 2.6 percent, or $762, tuition increase for undergraduate nonresident students, which would provide UC campuses with approximately $26 million of new revenue, according to the action item.

During the public comment portion of the board meeting, Robinson urged the board to reject the proposed tuition hike, stating that it would only further “price out” low-income nonresident students.

“I’m tired of the UC system milking me for money that I do not have to fix their broken funding mechanisms,” said Sachi Cooper, an out-of-state student at UCLA, during public comment.

The regents voted to pass the nonresident tuition increase at their meeting the next day.

Many students from Fossil Free UC spoke out during public comment Wednesday against the UC’s investment in the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

Sarah Bancroft, a UC Berkeley sophomore and a member of Fossil Free UC, emphasized that the UC cannot “preach” about sustainability while gaining profit from an environmentally harmful industry.

“If the UC wants to be a climate leader, then they must divest and move power away from fossil fuels and toward a sustainable future,” Bancroft said during public comment.

Sabina Mahavni covers student life. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sabina_mahavni.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article stated that mayor Jesse Arreguín cited the Upper Hearst Development Project as “contrary to common sense.” In fact, he was referring to the supplemental environmental impact report, or SEIR.