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UC Berkeley Students Protest After Fee Hike Is Approved

Jennifer Fong |
November 19, 2010 | 1:21 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

UC Berkeley Campus (Creative Commons)
UC Berkeley Campus (Creative Commons)
A group of about forty protestors mobilized Friday morning around centers of student activity on the University of California  Berkeley campus. 

The UC Board of Regents had been bracing itself for the massive protest expected today after it approved an 8 percent fee hike that would raise annual tuition fees from $10,302 to $11,124.


Protestors want to know why UC President Yudof is asking them to pay more after state funding just granted $370 million in funding to the UC system.

Today's protest comes after an incident Wednesday where police arrested 13 people—seven of whom were UC Berkeley students. That protest drew a crowd of over 300 Cal students, staff, and community members.  Police used pepper spray to control the crowds.  One officer even drew his gun—but that was before the fee hikes were approved.

Nothing happened on Thursday when the 8 percent fee increased was actually voted on and approved.  Friday's protest hasn’t lived up to expectations either.

“I don’t think people are as interested as they were last year to mobilize,” said Karen Kwok, a junior majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies.  Adding that “it’s pretty quiet on campus,” Kwok echoes the Daily Cal’s sentiments on the “inconsistency of protest efforts.”

“Last year, pretty much everyone went protesting… people were getting hurt.  Pretty much the whole school and the Berkeley community was there,” said Kwok.

When asked why she thought why activism had declined, Kwok paused, before offering with a laugh, “Maybe ‘cause it’s raining.”

By about 1:00 p.m., some protesters within the group suggested that the protest was formally over for the day.

According to UC President Mark Yudof, the tuition increases are projected to raise $180 million per year for the UC system.  The UC Regents are still considering other means of raising revenue.

Track the progress of the protest here.

Reach reporter Jennifer Fong here.


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Milan Moravec (not verified) on November 21, 2010 5:40 PM

The $ deficits are caused by the UC Berkeley Provost Breslauer and Chancellor Birgeneau and can be solved by Cal's Vice-Chancellors. UC Berkeley’s Leadership Crisis
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.
A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.
It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain & Company, to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization.
In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC president, Board of Regents, and California legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, Academic Senate, Cal. Alumni, financial donors, benefactors await the transformation.
The author, who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way the senior management operates.