Protesting Students Barricade Doors at UCLA

Board approves 32 percent fee increase

Protests continued Thursday at UCLA over a 32-percent fee increase approved by the California Board of Regents.

The LA Times reported that about 30 students took over Campbell Hall Thursday morning. The Times reported the students used chains and bike locks to barricade doors.

"No action is being taken by the university; they aren't posing a threat," said UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton.

The protest prompted cancellation of some classes. By 4:45 p.m., police had dispersed the crowd. After the meeting, school officials were led safely through the protestors with the aid of police.

Two arrests were made Thursday. On Wednesday, more than a dozen people were arrested.

The University of California Board of Regents approved the increase, which would raise tuition to more than $10,000 -- marking the first time tuition would reach a five-digit price tag. The proposal drew hundreds of protestors outside of UCLA's Covel Commons on Wednesday and Thursday, according to UCLA:

During and after the regents' meeting, protesters from UCLA and other schools demonstrated outside Covel Commons and across campus. Police estimated the number of protesters on campus approached 2,000 at its peak. About 30 to 50 students also locked themselves inside Campbell Hall overnight, forcing the cancellation of today's classes.

UC police said that one student was arrested for obstructing a police officer, cited and released. Two people were observed receiving treatment for exposure to pepper spray.

About 300 protesters also marched through campus and blocked the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and LeConte Avenue in Westwood Village. The students moved to the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood boulevards, briefly blocked traffic there, then returned to campus via Veteran and Gayley avenues.

After the Board of Regents meeting concluded, students continued to demonstrate their opposition to higher fees in the area around Covel Commons and the UCLA residence hill. About three hours after the meeting ended, all regents had left campus and police issued dispersal orders to several dozen remaining protesters.

On Wednesday, 14 people, including 12 students, were arrested and cited, according to UCLA. Two students suffered minor injuries and "a few UC Police officers were hurt by thrown objects," according to the university.

The proposal will increase tuition at UC campuses by $585 in the spring and an additional $1,344 in the fall. The full Board of Regents will consider the proposed tuition increase Thursday.

"None of us want fee increases," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. "This was a painful decision to make, but the Regents have their backs to the wall in trying to restore the fiscal health of the university. Unfortunately, this means that everyone -- faculty, staff and students -- is forced to share the pain. This crisis is truly unprecedented and requires drastic measures. It’s important to note, though, that financial aid packages will close the gap for the most needy."

Ayanna Moody, a second-year prelaw student, told the Associated Press that she feared she might have to attend a community college next year.

"I worked so hard to be at one of the most prestigious universities. To have to go back, it's very depressing," she told the AP. Administrators "already cut out a lot of our majors and programs. I'd rather they cut some of their salaries."

UCLA graduate student Matthew Luckett agreed: "They should cut from the top," he said, referring to administration salaries.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, told the full board Thursday that she would call for hearings in Sacramento to discuss the financial situation facing the state university system -- and education in general. She chastised some of her colleagues for "grandstanding" on the issue while doing little to help raise funds for education.
"The real answer is we need votes," she said. "We struggle every year for votes to raise revenue."

The UC Regents will ask the Legislature for a $913 million state funding increase for the next fiscal year -- with plans to cut freshman enrollment if the funding is not approved.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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