Students Occupy Wheeler Hall At UC Berkeley In Protest Of Tuition Hikes
BERKELEY (KCBS) — Students opposed to the University of California's plan to raise tuition over the next five years have taken over UC Berkeley's Wheeler Hall.
The group of about 100 student protesters went into the building Wednesday night vowing to stay there until the regents agree to drop the tuition increase plan, according to Ronald Cruz, an attorney for the activist group By Any Means Necessary.
The atmosphere was calm Thursday morning as UC Police were on hand and students were sleeping in the stairways, the lobby and classrooms where empty pizza boxes were strewn over tables.
Students, however, told KCBS that they would clean up their sleeping bags in time for classes to go on.
"We don't want to stand aside the Regent saying, 'Oh yeah, we're stopping education as well.' Rather the exact opposite—we want to sustain the ideals that education should be accessible to everyone and if we block the doors, it's the exact opposite of that," Ivan Villaseñor Madriz, a philosophy major, said.
The committee voted 7-2 in favor of a tuition hike of as much as 5 percent annually for the next five years despite opposition from figures including Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Students also protested at the meeting at the University of California at San Francisco's Mission Bay campus, linking arms and attempting to block UC regents from entering the meeting.
University police arrested one protester who allegedly broke a glass door to the building. The protester's name was not immediately being released.
The full board is scheduled to vote on the tuition hike proposal bundled inside the complete UC budget today.
Newsom and UC student regent Sadia Saifuddin cast the two dissenting votes this afternoon.
UC president Janet Napolitano proposed the tuition increase earlier this month.
Napolitano said the university's revenue issue was a result of public disinvestments, not university budget allocations. She said unless the state increased its funding for the universities, a tuition hike was the only foreseeable option.
Under the tuition increase, a 5 percent hike would raise tuition for in-state students by $612 to $12,804 in the 2015-16 school year, according to Napolitano's office. Tuition for out-of-state students would increase by more than $1,700 to about $36,820.
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