Potential tuition increase draws student protest in front of Geisel Library

Nicolas Costa Monteiro, Campus Organizing Director, sits in front of a poster that reads "Free Education - Liberate our People." (Gabe Schneider / The Triton)

Approximately 50 students protested in front of the Silent Tree this morning, in response to discussion of a potential tuition increase from the UC Regents. Despite the rain, students stood in front of Geisel Library chanting, “UC, UC you’re no good, treat your students like you should” and “hey hey, ho ho, tuition hikes have got to go.”

UC officials have proposed a potential tuition increase beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, with a suggested increase of 2.5 percent for California residents and up to five percent for non-residents.

The discussion of a tuition increase comes after a six year freeze in tuition cost.

Approximately 150 students from campuses across the state protested proposed tuition hikes last Thursday, Nov. 17, at a UC Regents meeting in San Francisco. Student speakers addressed ongoing UC administrative scandals, such as the ones at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, as well as basic student needs for housing and food security. The UC Student Association (UCSA), a UC-wide student group that advocates for “accessibility, affordability, and quality” in the UC system, organized the action.

“Any increase in the cost of attendance will make it harder for students to meet their basic needs,” UCSA President Ralph Washington Jr. said. “Considering that we know that students are struggling to meet their basic needs, a tuition increase will not help them.”

Several students attending today’s protest on Library Walk emphasized the impact they think tuition hikes will have on students who are already struggling to pay the cost of attendance. Dellanira Alcauter, a third year UCSD student, attended both today’s action and the UCSA action last Thursday. She was particularly incensed about how she thought students were treated by the UC Regents.

“We went up to their meeting last Thursday. We drove up more than eight hours to get up there.” Alcauter said. “Then they kicked us out of their meeting and threatened to arrest us.”

 

Mike Francis Vicencio, Community Activism Advocate for Kaibigang Pilipin@. (Gabe Schneider / The Triton)

Mike Francis Vicencio, Community Activism Advocate for Kaibigang Pilipin@. (Gabe Schneider / The Triton)

Mike Francis Vicencio, a student and the Community Activism Advocate for Kaibigang Pilipin@, attended today’s protest because he believes that if tuition increases, he’ll no longer be able to attend university.

“I barely even got to this university and it was hard for me to convince my parents to actually come here,” Vicencio said. “It shouldn’t be whether I have the money or not. It should be about education.”

UC tuition cost for the 2015-2016 year for residents was around $13,500, and non-residents have an average cost of $40,182. University of California Admissions website notes that “[a]ll fees are subject to change without notice.”

Students protest in front of Silent Tree. (Gabriel Schneider / The Triton)

Students protest in front of Silent Tree. (Gabriel Schneider / The Triton)

Washington thinks the best ways for students to advocate for “real change” is to speak up at Board of Regents meetings, lobby in Sacramento, and organize conversations on their own campuses. He also noted that students should “tell their own stories of the soaring cost of attendance,” by writing opinion pieces for their respective campus newspapers or for UCSA’s statewide publication.

But some students are already focusing on what to do after tuition has been raised. As a student of color herself, Alcauter is particularly concerned that marginalized communities of color are going to be hit hardest by a tuition hike.

“Rain or shine, they’re going to [attempt to] raise our tuition. Rain or shine we’re going to be out here demanding justice for students,” Alcauter said.

Gabe Schneider is the Editor-in-Chief at The Triton. This article was compiled with background research and interviews conducted by Heather Dewis.