UC Davis Students Rally Against Proposed Tuition Hike

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Several hundred student demonstrators marched through the UC Davis campus and briefly occupied Mrak Hall, the campus administration building today to protest an impending UC Board of Regents vote on raising student tuition.

Demonstrators made not of the fact that this is the third anniversary of the infamous pepper spray incident, in which dozens of students were injured and dozens arrested for defying campus police.

Video of the incident went viral and investigations and policy changes soon followed. A rally began at the spot of the incident. Speakers criticized the tuition increases saying it prevents young people from getting an affordable education.

ASUCD President Armando Figueroa was at the pepper spray protest three years ago. He said the fact that the tuition is once again an issue shows that the UC Board of Regents is out of touch with students and families.

“They’ve done nothing but blatantly ignore students,” Figueroa said.

The proposal could raise tuition 5 percent a year for the next five years.

Fees have not been raised in three years but stands at almost $14,000 a year at UC Davis. That goes over $30,000 a year once you add room, board and books.

Kabir Kapur, a student who also at the pepper spray protest, said student activism has proven effective three years ago.

“We gathered here and we got brutalized by the police and our activism actually stopped the tuition increases, so that’s why we’re here. We’ve had a tuition freeze for the last three years and now they’re proposing it again,” Kapur said.

The group of demonstrators swelled to around 600 students as it paraded through campus chanting “give us back our tuition.”

Campus administrators, including UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi, were outside the as they arrived at Mrak Hall, saying she wanted to show that they were advocating for students.

She complained that the university system can only cut so much from their budget and said the tuition issue is the direct result of under funding by the state legislature.

“The state is giving us 1.7 percent of the operating budget so we cannot even cover mandatory costs, so pensions are very big,” Katehi said.

Students chose to occupy the building, chanting as they went entered. Katehi said students earlier agreed that there would be no violence and after a noisy protest, left the building to continue their March through campus.

Katehi was the target of frustrated students after the pepper spray incident although she said she had ordered that police make no arrests. During Tuesday’s rally and march, no campus police officers could be seen.

UCD administrators say Wednesday’s Regents vote on the tuition proposal will be important for the state as well as students.