San Fransisco Chronicle
Nov. 28, 2011
By Jill Tucker, Carolyn Jones,Kevin Fagan
(11-28) 16:17 PST SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of students and faculty members temporarily shut down a University of California Board of Regents meeting being held simultaneously today at campuses in San Francisco, Davis, Merced and Los Angeles by standing in the conference rooms and chanting slogans so loudly the regents could no longer conduct business.
The regents at UCLA, UC Davis and UCSF’s Mission Bay reconvened their meetings in nearby rooms, where they approved a $2.7 billion expenditure plan for next year required by the state Legislature, asking that lawmakers give UC $400 million more than what the state gave last year.
The meeting in the original rooms was going smoothly until the public comment portion ended at 9:30 a.m. and several demonstrators began yelling the Occupy movement’s familiar “mic check!” call, signaling the desire to have a protest meeting.
There were about 50 students at each campus’ regents meeting, which was being conducted by speakerphone. “We’re not going away,” and “We are the majority,” the protesters chanted at each location.
After several minutes, most regents got up and left the room to the students, who conducted what they called a “People’s Regents” meeting – complete with two-minute speaker limits and votes on resolutions, including one they passed calling for several regents and UC executives to resign.
“The state has let us down. You have let us down,” Katheryn Kolesar, 27, a third-year civil and environmental engineering student at UC Davis, told regents there during the public comments portion of the meeting.
“The student movement is gaining momentum,” Kolesar said. “We have the opportunity to create change.”
At San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a regent, remained and joined the protesters for part of their meeting. The group asked him to sign a pledge to tax the 1 percent, among other things.
“You have my support for every single one of these principles, but I have an aversion to pledges because of the Grover Norquist pledge,” he said, referring to the conservative activist’s demand that Republicans nationally sign a pledge not to raise taxes.
“Let me say thank you for restoring my faith and confidence in this state and in this country,” he continued. “For the past two years there weren’t many people showing up for these meetings. … We gotta act differently. This whole system of higher education – not just UC, but CSU (California State University) too – is in peril.”
The $400 million the regents requested of the Legislature would be spent on hiring more faculty and staff, increasing enrollment, reducing class size, extending library hours and other undertakings.
After the meeting adjourned, UC President Mark Yudof said he understood the protesters’ actions.
“I wish they wouldn’t interrupt a public meeting,” he said, but “the students have taken it on the chin for the past decade … I definitely understand the students’ position.”
But, he said, students should aim their efforts to restore funding to higher education to Sacramento rather than at UC’s leadership.
“I’m sick and tired of Sacramento privatizing the university,” he said.
Many of those lined up early in the morning today to speak during the regents meeting were angry at frequent tuition hikes and state funding cuts to higher education. Others, especially at UC Davis, said regents needed to exercise more control over police who handle demonstrations on campus.