About 200 students gathered in Quarry Plaza Tuesday afternoon to rally against the proposed plan to increase tuition by up to 5 percent over each of the next five years, if state funding continues at expected levels.
The rally comes in preparation for Wednesday and Thursday’s UC Regents meeting, when the tuition hike will be voted on.
Student organizers posted signs on surrounding buildings that displayed messages like, “Education should be free!” and “Join the fight! #FundTheStudents.” Fourth-year Sauli Colio, who helped plan the event, said it was organized by students in a matter of days.
Colio, who opened up the rally with a speech about how the proposed increase will affect her, said students will struggle because of the hike on several different levels.
“I know a lot of students who are working two jobs and can barely even pay because of housing prices and now that tuition’s being proposed to go up, these students are going to have to struggle even more,” Colio said. “The decisions put on us are not made democratically so it’s very important for us to voice our opinions and let the Regents know that it’s not okay to decide these things without even consulting us.”
First-year psychology and Latin American and Latino Studies student Andres Pinedo stood in front the growing crowd to talk about how the hike will have deeper consequences besides the monetary effects.
“We have to change the direction in which the UC system is going. It’s leaning toward a system which believes in making profit instead of a system that believes in educating the next generation and offering more to our society,” Pinedo said. “Making money is not the end goal. The end goal should be creating educated individuals who can participate in society and give back.”
Other organizers distributed flyers during the rally with information about future student action including a rally and march later this week. Buses transporting students to and from UC San Francisco are also set to leave Santa Cruz around 5 a.m. Coalitions of students are planning direct action before and during the meeting.
University of California Office of the President stated Napolitano said the UC’s tuition rates are competitive to many other public research universities and is up to a third less than major private universities.
UCOP cited how robust the UC financial aid program is compared to the rest of the country, saying that 55 percent of students are completely covered by aid. An additional 14 percent are partially covered by aid, leaving about 31 percent of students left to pay the full cost of student fees and tuition.
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