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Students, faculty & workers protest U of Calif. hikes, cutbacks

by via PWW
Thursday, November 19, 2009 :  BERKELEY, Calif. - Thousands of students, faculty, campus workers and community supporters gathered Nov. 18 in historic Sproul Plaza on the University of California's campus here, to demand University of California regents not pass an expected 32 percent fee increase that would bring yearly undergraduate tuition above $10,000 for the first time.
The protests coincided with a two day regents meeting in Los Angeles. Organized by the faculty/staff/student Solidarity Alliance, the General Assembly, Graduate Student Organizing Committee, Student Worker Action Team and the University Professional and Technical Employees union (UPTE), the rally and other actions also supported UPTE's two-day unfair labor practices strike.

The 10-campus, 220,000 student UC system has been up in arms this fall to fight cutbacks, layoffs, furloughs, the proposed "fee" (tuition) hike, and furloughs - all supposedly justified by California's budget crisis - while at the same time already highly-paid top administrators have received big salary hikes. Protests have centered on the need to keep the system public and effectively serving the state's economically, racially and ethnically diverse population.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, as the regents' finance committee voted for the fee hike, student protests forced the regents' meeting to recess three times. Police arrested 14 protesters.

"It is not business as usual when students face fee hikes, when workers are laid off, when faculty are told to shut up and put up!" Ananya Roy, professor of city and regional planning and a Solidarity Alliance leader, told the cheering crowd. "It is not business as usual when in Sacramento, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about deeper and deeper spending cuts and refuses to consider increases in taxes, when our so-called leaders in the UC system wrap themselves in defeatism and fail to make the case for public education."

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