Friday, November 24

Regents bring debate to campus

Beginning this afternoon, Covel Commons will host a three-day UC Board of Regents meeting.

The board is scheduled to vote on the budget proposal that goes through the 2010-2011 fiscal year and includes the controversial 32 percent student fee increase.

The initial 15 percent rise in fees would take effect winter quarter, and a second increase of the same rate would take place fall 2010. Since the second hike would be based on the increased winter quarter fee level, fees would rise a total of 32 percent from their current level.

Both UC spokesman Peter King and student regent-designate Jesse Cheng said they expect the proposal to pass.

“I would be surprised if it didn’t pass, but I’ve been surprised in my life many, many times,” King said.

Along with the fee increases, the board is scheduled to vote Thursday on the final plan for the reopening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in Los Angeles.

After the vote, a second-year UCLA student will speak about her experience as a former foster child now attending the University of California. The presentation is part of the University Committee on Educational Policy and a conversation about access to the university.

Unlike the budget and hospital items, this discussion will not culminate in a vote.

However, it is the fee increases that are attracting both protesters and attention to this meeting.

Cheng said both he and student regent Jesse Bernal are morally opposed to the fee hikes. While Cheng does not vote as the regent-designate, as he is learning the ropes and will be next year’s student regent, he said Bernal intends to vote against the increase.

Cheng has been preparing for the meeting by looking at policy analyses, organizing teach-ins at UC Irvine and trying to keep students informed.

“The students should never let the Board of Regents take fee increases lightly,” Cheng said.

However, both Cheng and King pointed out that even Regent Eddie Island, who has never voted for fee increases in the past, said in September that he intends to vote in favor of the proposal.

“You’re basically talking Wednesday to people who have been put into a corner,” King said of the regents’ position in light of cuts coming from the state.

He said the university has reached a point where there really is a threat to excellence. There is a possibility of sliding into “the big old cesspool of mediocrity,” he added.

However, King said UC President Mark Yudof is as angry as the students are.

“They need to do what they’re going to do,” King said.

King said the problem resides in getting California and its elected representatives to understand the public good that a public research university system like the UC means.

“(Yudof) does not make decisions to make people happy. He makes decisions based on what’s best for the university,” he added.

Cheng said he hopes that students will come out in large numbers but still allow discussion to happen.

“I really want students to be safe,” he added.

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