The University of California regents met via teleconference Monday at UCLA, UC Davis, UC Merced and UC San Francisco-Mission Bay, and were accompanied by student protests at all four locations.
The board voted for a $411 million increase to this year's budget, which is just over $5 billion. Steve Montiel, media relations director of the UC Office of the President, told The Huffington Post that the regents hope the budget increase will come from the state. If not, it will come from either tuition increase, UC general funds or alternative revenue sources.
Students, frustrated with tuition increases and what they called an undemocratic decision-making process, disrupted the meetings, forcing the regents on each campus to move to other offices. UCLA students had camped out in tents on campus the night before in preparation for the protest, according to KTLA.
UCLA student Rahim Kurwa, who participated in the Westwood protest, told HuffPost, "We no longer see the regents as legitimate. They are appointed instead of elected, they serve for 12 years, and only a couple of them have a background in education. We've no proof that they have our best interests at heart; we don't have any trust or faith in them."
"With only one student regent versus 18 other regents and no way to veto or recall them, it's not a democratic system," Kurwa continued. "If there was another way to work with the system other than camping in a tent over night, we would do it."
The regents' meeting at UCLA started with a public comment session, in which regents listened to feedback from students and others concerned. The meeting then lasted for about 30 minutes before students disrupted it with a mic check, prompting the regents to hold a closed-door meeting.
UCLA student Whitney Richards Calathes was one of the approximately 20 students who remained in the original meeting room after the regents left. "After they left, we conducted a people's assembly where students have more of a voice. We invited the regents to be a part of it," Calathes said.
After about an hour-long closed-door meeting, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White, Chair of the Board Sherry Lansing and regent Eddie Island listened to the students' concerns for about 20 minutes.
"They said they would like to reschedule another time to talk," Calathes said. "But they wouldn't give us a date or time."
In response to students' dissatisfaction with the regents system, Montiel said, "Regents agree that there should be more state support for education. Chair Sherry Lansing said she will go to the Capitol with students in January to talk to legislators. She also plans to go to each UC campus and talk to students, inviting other regents to join her."
"Part of the idea of regents being appointed for 12 years is so the regents wouldn't be dominated by any one governor's appointees," Montiel added. "This was set up back when the Constitution was set up. It's been this way for a long time."
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