CSU Tuition Hike Protest Turns Violent

3 officers injured; 4 arrested, says CSU spokesman

By Hetty Chang and Olsen Ebright
|  Thursday, Nov 17, 2011  |  Updated 8:56 AM PDT
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Protests break out at two Southern California Universities after the Cal State University Trustees votes to raise fees. Beverly White reports.

Beverly White & Bobbi Eng

Protests break out at two Southern California Universities after the Cal State University Trustees votes to raise fees. Beverly White reports.

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Raw Video: Protesters, Police Clash in Long Beach

A mob outside the CSU Chancellor's office in Long Beach shatters a glass door.
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The California State University Board voted Wednesday to approve a 9-percent, system-wide tuition hike for all 23 CSU campuses, sparking a violent confrontation in Long Beach that injured three officers, according to a CSU spokesman.

The 9-6 vote escalated tensions between protesters and CSU police, who according to system officials, were attempting to get protesters to peacefully leave the meeting when the board recessed.

Protesters then moved outside the CSU Chancellor's office in Long Beach, and that's when things got more heated, said Eric Fallis, a CSU spokesman.

Inside the building, police were trying to keep the doors closed.

Outside, an angry mob pounded on the glass and pushed its way toward an open door guarded by officers.

In a YouTube video posted by Zien Halwani (embedded, below), a demonstrator falls back into the building with a police officer. A second demonstrator collapses on the pile.

She pleads with officers as they handcuff her: "You got to treat me like a human being."

The crowd outside continues to pound on the glass, chanting and making offensive gestures at the officers.

The tension peaks as the front door shatters (video embedded, above).

"Back off. Back off. You guys did that. Back off. You pulled the door. Back off," shouts an officer to the crowd, as blood starts to form around a cut on his temple.

During the exchange, three officers were injured and four protesters, including the person who broke the door, were arrested, according to Fallis.

The new fee policy, which received approval Wednesday from both the board and the CSU finance committee, would increase tuition from $5,472 a year to $5,970 a year for full-time undergraduate students starting next fall.

Joining the thousands of students protesting the increased fees was Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who at Wednesday's meeting, urged the board to reconsider balancing its budget on the backs of students

Newsom stressed the importance of protecting access to higher education, especially in light of current economic conditions.

“In today’s economy, the timing of the proposed 9 percent tuition increase could not come at a more difficult time,” said Newsom, who called cuts to higher education a “catastrophic trend.”

“Families are struggling to make ends meet and many who had hoped to afford higher education are rethinking whether college is a realistic option,” Newsom said.

California state universities are funded through tuition and state funding, the latter of which has been cut $650 million just this school year, said Fallis.

“Our funding from the state has dropped down to $2.14 billion,” said Fallis. “That’s less funding than we had a decade ago, yet we’re serving 70,000 additional students.”

Per-student funding has gone down about $2,000 in the last decade, Fallis said.

University of California students have also expressed outrage about their proposed tuition hikes, which could amount to a 16 percent increase over the next four years.

The UC Board of Regents canceled its meetings in San Francisco earlier this week because of what it called "credible intelligence" that "significant violence and vandalism" was possible during the meeting.

At Wednesday's CSU meeting, protesters were warned about their continued chanting after their time allotment had expired during public comment.

“We are the 99 percent. We are the 99 percent,” they shouted as they walked from the podium.

On top of the tuition hikes, the CSU system could face another $100 million cut this school year if state revenues fall short of what is projected.

The CSU system generates half the bachelor degrees that are produced in the state, said Robert Turnage, assistant vice chancellor for the system’s budget.

“If we can’t keep up that pace, the entire state of California is going to suffer as a result,” Turnage said.

Instructors at both Cal State University East Bay and Dominguez Hills are planning to walk off the job Thursday as a show of support for their students, who are now faced with these rising fees.

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