More than 500 students mobilized Tuesday and took over the UC Davis administration building for about an hour to protest a proposed tuition hike by the UC Board of Regents.
The students chanted, marched and banged drums in Mrak Hall in what they said was a message to the UC Board of Regents.
“Tell them shame,” said UC Davis junior Mariah Watson. “Tell them that if you won’t represent us we’ll get rid of you. Raise tuition and we’ll raise hell.”
Students said they are frustrated over the proposed tuition hike that would raise their costs by more than $3,300 over the next five years.
That increase would make it tough for students like Lorena Castillo, a UC Davis junior, to stay in school.
“Taking out all of these loans my parents cannot help me one bit, so they already told me if it gets any more expensive you might not be able to take out anything else and you might not be able to go to school,” Castillo said.
Harley Litzelman, a UC Davis sophomore, told KCRA 3 he’ll be in San Francisco for Wednesday’s vote.
“We’re going to be sending the message that students should not be used as political pawns in anyone’s political game,” Litzelman said
UC President Janet Napolitano has proposed that a 5 percent tuition hike each year over the next five years is necessary to pay for rising pension costs, employee raises and to hire more faculty.
The UC wants state taxpayers to kick in more money.
“It does not make sense that the state is not funding the university,” UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said. “So the students are very upset.”
Katehi agreed that part of the problem is pension related because the state stopped paying into the pension system “for 20 years.”
“Pensions and health and salary increases are 6 percent of our operating budget and the state is not contributing to that,” Katehi said.
Katehi sounded sympathetic to the student cause.
“Well the students are protesting for a very good reason. Their education has not been funded,” she said. “We have 2,000 students on this campus whose education has not been subsidized by the state.”
As for the massive pension liability problem, Adele de la Torrre, UC Davis vice chancellor of student affairs told KCRA 3, “It does make it worse and I think this is another point that we’re going to have to look at very carefully.”
All this sets up a showdown in San Francisco on Wednesday for the much anticipated vote.
Brown has already indicated he’ll be voting “No,” and just named two new appointees to the UC Board of Regents to help hold the line on tuition.
Tuesday’s rally and march came three years to the day that pepper spray was used on protesters who gathered in the campuses quad during an Occupy movement.
The 2011 pepper-spray incident led to a class-action lawsuit against the University of California.
Student protesters are also planning to share a potluck dinner later Tuesday evening.
KCRA’s Brian Hickey contributed to this report.