Posted November 20, 2009
Building on more modest actions one month ago, California’s statewide public university system has exploded in protest as thousands of students rally against outrageous tuition hikes. Tactics have ranged from mass rallies to five building occupations. At UCLA and UC Berkeley, the professional union UPTE staged a one-day strike Wednesday, followed a day later by a rally of 2,000 students encircling the Board of Regents meeting as they voted on the monster 32% fee increase.
Under a call for “No Business as Usual,” the student activists have united around several demands:
- That the Regents vote no on the proposed fee increases.
- That the UC stop cuts and layoffs, and end its aggressive union-busting tactics.
- Transparency of the UC budget, including complete figures on how much of the additional revenue from fees will be diverted for construction and used as bond collateral.
- Expand enrollment of underrepresented groups and ensure equal access to education for all by maintaining all educational institutions as sanctuary spaces for undocumented students and workers and by providing adequate financial aid for undocumented and underrepresented students.
- An explanation for the failure of the UC leadership to make an effective case for public higher education. As both students and taxpayers, we demand leaders who can make that case, and an administration whose transparency can once again inspire the confidence of the state and its citizens.
Intimidation of the protesters has ranged from tasering of African-American UCLA students to slapping one demonstrator at Berkeley with the major charge of inciting a riot, and rumors of threats of tear gas. Student occupiers at UC Santa Cruz have included in their demands the disarming of campus police – which is the case in many countries throughout the world.
While this round of demonstrations is not yet concluded, the Regents decision is a real blow to education access. However plans are underway for more action this spring, as California students lead the way in refusing to pay for the fallout of the capitalist crisis.