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Occupy Cal Protesters Set Up Tents At UC Berkeley

BERKELEY (CBS SF) - Occupy Cal protesters have set up seven tents on Sproul Plaza on the University of California at Berkeley campus, according to a spokesman for the group.

Navid Shaghaghi, a senior who is majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, said protesters returned to Sproul Plaza on Thursday to mark the three-month anniversary of a large demonstration on Nov. 9 that resulted in about 40 people being arrested.

"We're here to re-establish the occupation of our space and to display to the campus community that we haven't gone away," Shaghaghi said.

UC Berkeley spokeswoman Claire Holmes said campus police have issued repeated warnings to the protesters that it is a violation of university policy to have tents on campus.

Holmes said police "are continuing to monitor the situation" but haven't made any arrests or confiscated any tents so far.

In addition to marking the anniversary of the Nov. 9 arrests, Shaghaghi said protesters are back at Sproul Plaza because "not much has changed since last time."

He said although the UC Board of Regents has postponed tuition increases, students are still worried that tuition will be increased in the near future.

"There's still a lot of stuff to be worked through," Shaghaghi said.

He said protesters are in the process of deciding whether to continue their encampment at Sproul Plaza over the weekend or to disband and then return on Monday.

Shaghaghi said about 30 people slept at Sproul Plaza Thursday night.

He said they've participated in a variety of activities, including dancing and playing Frisbee, soccer and chess.

"It's been very exciting and a great community-building event," Shaghaghi said.

He said Occupy Cal protesters and activists at other campuses across the state will stage large protests the first week of March to ask for more funding for education.

Holmes said university officials understand the protesters' concerns about tuition costs and are trying to communicate with protesters that they're working hard to keep tuition costs affordable and point out that about 65 percent of students receive at least some financial aid.

About 40 percent of students have all of their costs paid by financial aid, Holmes said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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