Thursday, November 19, 2009

Limiting Access to Higher Education?

Hundreds rally at UCLA to protest expected 32% increase in student fees - LA Times - November 19, 2009

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click here for link to photos of the protest

A second day of protests roiled the UCLA campus today as the UC regents prepared to approve a 32% increase in student fees.

Groups of UC students from several other campuses arrived in Westwood to join a noisy demonstration against the fee hike, and a group of protesters was occupying a UCLA classroom building.

UCLA officials declared Campbell Hall, where the sit-in continued, closed for the day. Inside, about 40 to 50 students had chained the doors shut shortly after midnight and were issuing e-mail statements.

“We choose to fight back, to resist, where we find ourselves, the place where we live and work, our university,” their statement said. Campus police surrounded the classroom building, but no arrests were made.

Meanwhile, across campus, a crowd of several hundred gathered outside Covel Commons, where the regents were meeting. Students and UC employees chanted such slogans as “Whose university? Our university!”

Among them was Tommy Le, a fourth-year student at UC Santa Cruz, who left his campus at 3 a.m. today in a convoy of two buses headed south. Le, 21, an American studies major from El Monte, said he was worried about how he being able to afford the higher charges, starting with an additional $585 for the rest of the school year.

“It’s adding more stress and more burden,” said Le, who said he works two part-time jobs and home to help his family. The fee increase, he said, would be “a lose-lose situation.”

The full Board of Regents is expected to approve a fee hike of $2,500, or 32%, in two steps by next fall. That would bring the basic UC education fees to about $10,300, plus about another $1,000 for campus-based charges, for a total that would be about triple the UC cost a decade ago. Room, board and books can add another $16,000.

-- Larry Gordon

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