Oakland, CA – Despite a strong mobilization of students across the state against further tuition hikes, the UC Regents approved an additional 10.5% increase to tuition this morning. The total tuition increase for 2011-2012 will be nearly 19%. Only four Regents voted against this increase—Student Regent Mireles, Regent Marcus, Regent Island and Lieutenant Governor Newsom.
This tuition increase is a significant blow to affordability and accessibility in the UC system. “This is a sad day for the University of California. Once again, the Regents have refused to consider alternative options, and chosen the easy route of placing the entire burden on students and their families,” said Claudia Magana, UCSA President, and 4th year student at UC Santa Cruz.
Students greatly appreciated the comments of Lieutenant Governor Newsom who was the only Regent, other than Student Regent Mireles, to speak out against the tuition increase. “We agree with Lieutenant Governor Newsom. This tuition increase is another direct attack on the middle class. The Regents should have refused tuition increases, and done something different. Students are afraid we are simply going to be in the same place next year,” said Nelson Cortez, External Vice President and 4th year student at UC Santa Cruz.
The Regents had initially proposed a 5.6% increase to occur automatically in 2012-13 if an additional $100 million cut came down from the state. Students poured into the Regents meeting to speak against this “trigger” increase and organized across the state to make sure that their voices were heard. “This trigger increase was completely unacceptable to students. We mobilized and advocated aggressively with dozens of students coming for public comment and hundreds of students sending in letters and emails. The removal of the “trigger” increase was a significant victory for students on an otherwise sad day for affordability and accessibility in the UC system,” said Joelle Gamble, External Vice President and 4th year student at UCLA.
Lastly, students were very disappointed to see the UC Regents vote for a salary pay increase of $27,500 for Patrick Lenz, Vice President of Budget and Capital Resources on the same day that they approved such an extensive tuition increase which brings his salary up to $300,000. Students do not believe that such an increase is appropriate in light of the sacrifices being asked of students and their families. While Lenz is not the only administrator receiving a raise at this Regents meeting, he is the only administrator who will be receiving a raise that comes entirely from the General Fund. “Most Californians would be surprised to find that a top UC administrator is receiving a significant raise on the same day that students and their families are being asked to give so much more. Such a decision does not align with the values of a public institution,” said Magana.