Robyn Gee, Turnstyle News
Students disrupted UC regents meetings yesterday at four University of California campuses: UCLA, UC San Francisco, UC Davis and UC Merced. They used the "human mic" call and response method of communication, used at most Occupy protests, to voice their grievances.
The regents ended up unanimously passing a budget proposal requesting extra funds to avoid a tuition increase. The board is asking for an additional $412 million from the state. However, the UC system already took a $650 million cut this year, and could suffer another $100 million reduction in early 2012. Even though the budget request would stabilize tuition costs, protesters turned out at each campus.
Turnstyle spoke to UCLA Daily Bruin reporter Emily Suh, who was covering the regents meeting at the James West Alumni Center on the UCLA campus, where members of Occupy UCLA and the student government-funded organization “Fund the UC” had gathered to speak and make their arguments known to the regents.
“[The vibe] really shifted. In the beginning it was calm... after public commentary ended, and the board actually started discussing the items, then it got hectic,” she said. “It first started out about how [the students] wanted to extend public commentary, and make it a ‘people’s regents meeting,’ and wanted audience participating actively,” said Suh.
The UC Regents, in all four locations, were communicating by teleconference. According to Suh, demonstrators at UCLA overheard students at another location begin shouting “mic check” over the teleconference speaker and they followed suit. “It was mic check after mic check...That’s when it got pretty loud and chaotic. But it was handled well... [Chairwoman Sherry] Lansing tried to calm them down, and get them to wait until the action items were passed. At one point, she asked police to clear the room, but the UC police didn’t do it. They just came in the room, and there was a police presence. They stood in a line between regents and protesters,” said Suh. “[The police are] being really careful right now.”
After this, the regents left to convene in another room and finish their meeting, while the student protesters held their own meeting in the James West Alumni Center.
Afterward, Lansing went back to the original meeting room to talk to the students. According to Suh, students generally voiced their frustrations that yes, the regents are asking the state for more money, but how do they expect the state to get it? “There’s no mechanism in place."