Raucous Protesters Shut Down UC Regents Meeting

"Whose university? Our university!"

Emotions spilled over at the University of California Board of Regents meeting at  UCSF Mission Bay Wednesday when university workers and students came face-to-face with the people who have furloughed their jobs and might raise their fees.

The anger surrounding the board's plan to raise student fees by about 30 percent has been brewing for some time but the pressure cooker exploded after the 30-minute period for public comment expired.

One man stood up and demanded more time for public comment but he was denied. That's when emotions erupted and the yelling began.

For more than 10 minutes, the upset protesters hollered "Whose university?" then answered, with cheers and fist-pumps, "Our university!" The crowd then began chanting "Lay off Yudof!" while UC President Mark Yudof sat at a table about 50-feet away.

The meeting was eventually shut down and UC police took 14 people away in handcuffs. They were later cited and released for trespassing and unlawful assembly.

The group is upset with Yudof's proposal to increase fees by more than 30 percent next year to help close a $753 million budget deficit. Most of the regents and Yudof left the conference room while police brought in reinforcements to quell the crowd.

One officer shoved back a protester who tried to make his way up to the front of the room.  Most of the workers and students left voluntarily.

When the board meeting resumed 30 minutes later, Yudof blamed the financial crisis for the recent layoffs, furloughs and other tough decisions he says he’s had to make.

"The state has stopped building freeways to higher education," Yudof said in defense of the fee hikes, "they are now toll roads."

The Board is expected to decide on possible tuition increases at its meeting in November.

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