UC Berkeley students embarked on a three day strike Wednesday to protest budget cuts, furloughs and fee hikes.
Chanting “Whose university? Our university!” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” the students once again marched from Sproul Hall to downtown Berkeley and to Berkeley High School and Berkeley City College to rally for their cause.
Wednesday’s strike started as early as 5 a.m. with picket lines forming in front of campus construction sites and, starting about 7 a.m., at the main entrances to the campus.
Facing a $1.2 billion deficit next year, a UC Regents’ committee voted Wednesday at UCLA to increase student fees and adopt a financial plan asking the state to fund the university’s needs.
More than two dozen people were arrested at UCLA Wednesday during a protest against the fee hikes.
The fee increases are part of the 2010-11 operating budget, which seeks an additional $913 million to pay for unfunded enrollment growth and to restore program cuts, stop employee furloughs and contribute to the UC Retirement Plan.
The regents acted at the recommendation of UC President Mark G. Yudof, who said the budget “is designed to provide access, maintain quality and stabilize the fiscal health of the university.”
The UC Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on the fee and budget proposals Thursday.
After the noon rally, the marchers walked to California Hall before sending busloads of students to UCLA to protest at the regents’ Thursday meeting.
The protesters are also planning to dump trash outside California Hall Thursday at 3 p.m. to show their anger about the 32 percent fee increase.
The fee increases are expected to bring $505 million in revenue, of which $175 million would used toward financial aid.
“We can no longer tolerate fiscal uncertainty and continual cutting as we wait for Sacramento to navigate through this crisis,” Yudof said in a statement. “We will keep working hard with state political leaders to restore the university’s funding to an appropriate level. In the meantime, however, we must act now to shore up our own finances if we are to preserve the quality and ensure the access that California expects from the world’s premier public research university system ... I know this is a painful day for university students and their families, but as I stand here today I can assure you this is our one best shot at preventing this recession from pulling down a great system toward mediocrity.”
For the complete story, see Thursday's edition of the Berkeley Daily Planet.