Preemptive action over protestsUC cancels meeting; CSU boosts security
The University of California has canceled this week’s Board of Regents meeting, after UC police said they had “credible intelligence” that violent protests could threaten public safety.
Their information indicated “that rogue elements intent on violence and confrontation with UC public safety officers were planning to attach themselves to peaceful demonstrations expected to occur at the meeting,” UC officials said in a written statement released Monday.
The Board’s bimonthly meeting was scheduled to take place Wednesday and Thursday at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay campus.
Sherry Lansing, head of the Regents, specifically asked the police if this was just about protests, which have become the norm at Board meetings in recent years, said UC’s Media Relations Director, Steve Montiel. “They assured her that this went beyond that,” he said.
Faced with that warning, Lansing and UC President Mark Yudof decided that allowing the meeting to take place “might constitute a reckless disregard of credible law enforcement intelligence.”
Montiel said he didn’t know if the threats came from some of the outside agitators who have disrupted the Occupy Oakland protests, but UC students said the Regents are overreacting to the Occupy movement and should have been better prepared to deal with this type of situation.
The UC police department “deals with student demonstrations on a regular basis, and their top priority should be ensuring students’ ability to demonstrate safely,” said UC Student Association President Claudia Magana.
The UC Student Association is a part of ReFund California, a statewide coalition of students, teachers, and many of the same people involved in the Occupy movement. Organizers said they expected at least a thousand people at this week’s meeting for a peaceful protest to raise the Occupy mantra that regents should look to the 1% to fund public colleges and universities rather than cutting their budgets and raising tuition.
“By canceling this meeting, the UC Regents have done a great disservice to students and our ability to participate in the governance of our University system,” Magana said.
Cal State faces tuition hike and faculty strike
Trustees of California State University are going ahead with their regular meeting today and tomorrow with extra security. The Board is scheduled to vote on its $2.4 billion 2012-13 budget request, which asks the state to restore $333 million, about half of what was cut this year. Tuition and campus fees make up the remaining $2 billion of CSU’s operating budget.
Students may be picking up even more of those costs. CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said he’ll also ask the trustees to approve a 9% tuition hike for the fall of 2012 that would kick in if the state doesn’t approve at least $138 million of the requested budget increase.
“We want to be able to give as much notice to students and parents as possible that if the state doesn’t give us the needed revenue to operate, tuition will go up in the fall of 2012,” said Reed during a telephone call with reporters Monday morning.
CSU undergraduates were already hit with a 23% hike this year, boosting tuition to $5,472. Add on campus fees, and costs rise to as much as $7,000.
Then there’s the elephant waiting just outside the room until December, when CSU could lose another $100 million if state revenues don’t increase enough and the Governor pulls the budget trigger. The plan for that, said Reed, is to cover the cuts with the last of their reserves.
So when asked if CSU could find $20 million for faculty raises agreed to in the 2008 contract, Reed answered sharply, “We cut about $15 million out of our budget this year, so the answer is no, we don’t have it.”
That conflict sparked the California Faculty Association’s (CFA) first ever strike at CSU. The union has called for a one-day walkout this Thursday at two campuses – Dominguez Hills in Southern California and East Bay in Northern California.
The argument is over one-quarter of one percent of CSU’s budget, said Kim Geron, Vice President of the CFA, and a political professor at Cal State East Bay. He pointed out that faculty have made concessions, including a 10% furlough in 2009.
“I think our faculty are fed up,” said Geron. He’s expecting a large turnout from each of the two schools, and from supporters at other campuses who can catch rides on union chartered buses.
Chancellor Reed, on the other hand, is convinced that most professors will show up for class. “I just have a lot of faith that we are going to accommodate our students,” he said.
But he’s putting on extra security at both campuses just in case.