Regents to Delay Assembly [Updated: Nov. 22]

A quarterly meeting of the. Regents of the University of California was postponed this week in San Francisco in response to concerns of violent protest. Though rumored fee increases were reportedly not scheduled to be discussed, many student organizations have claimed their right to protest is being impeded.

The meeting was planned for Wednesday, Nov. 15 and Thursday, Nov. 16 but was postponed on Monday.

According to the press release, the Office of the President was approached by UC police who claimed to have “credible intelligence” that “rogue elements intent on violence and confrontation with UC public safety officers” would infiltrate and disrupt student protests if a Regent meeting was held. The Regents opted to postpone the meeting and potentially reschedule it at a separate venue entirely.

The Board of Regents, which serves under the UC Office of the President, consists of 26 members, one of which is student-appointed by the Regents to serve a one-year term.

The Regents meet six times a year to discuss finance and student fees for the University of California. These meetings have become the target of student protest since 2008 when student fee increases were first announced.

The Regents have historically postponed meetings, such as in 2010, in response to plans for student protest over proposed tuition increases which inevitably passed. However, the Office of the President reports that fee increases were never a topic for this week’s meeting, which instead, was organized to collect information on alternative sources of funding for the University of California.

“The agenda for this meeting included updates from UC staff members on several initiatives that have been launched in an effort to offset state disinvestment in the university, providing alternate revenue streams beyond tuition and taxpayer support,”  said the Office of the President in a public statement. “This work will continue to go forward. Contrary to some public misperceptions, a tuition increase was never a part of the agenda for this meeting.”

Student fee increases have been a growing topic of discussion at Regents meetings since 2008.

In September, a five-year plan was proposed at a Regents’ meeting to increase state and student contribution by 8 percent annually. Should the state fail to increase investment in the University, the commitment would be drawn from student fees.

Though this plan has not yet been adopted by Regents, it still remains in discussion as an option for increasing University profit.

The University of California Irvine, which receives only 11 percent of its budget commitment from the State, relies on private support for 71 percent of its current operating budget.

UCOP has asked that campus administrations refuse to speak about the meeting’s postponement. Vice Chancellor of Planning and Budget Meredith Michaels could not be reached for comment.

The sudden cancellation of this week’s meeting was met with dismay by student organizations which had planned to picket the Regents at UCSF.

The University of California Student Association posted a press release on Facebook last Monday claiming that allegations that the meeting would have been unsafe were untrue and unfair to students. The statement went on to condemn the Regents’ decision.

“UCSA would expect the UC Regents and UC Police Department to have better prepared plans to ensure that Regents meetings can take place, so that students and others can exercise their free speech rights, and that public safety is protected.” the release said

UCSA president, Claudia Magana, claims that peaceful protest is a necessary part of student political participation in the governance of the University of California.

“Without student intervention, we don’t have much say in the government,” said Magana in a phone interview. “We have just one vote on the Regent’s Council. By delaying the meeting, they’re keeping students from getting close to them.”

According to Magana, the Regents told UCOP they wanted “a plan to bring quality back to the institution” by raising funding from various sources. Should the state fail to pass legislation increasing support to the UC, the Regents would likely turn to the “solutions used the most frequently” like fee increases or seeking private intervention.

“By taking away our right to protest, the Regents have disempowered UC students,” she said. “The Regents could only have had two reasons to cancel.

Either they decided peaceful interaction between students and police was impossible or they didn’t want to deal with protestors.”

UC Irvine recently participated in a statewide Day of Action, sponsored by the UCSA, in response to rumors of an 81 percent fee increase.

The Regents’ meeting has been delayed until Monday, Nov. 28 and the future location has yet to be announced.

Update | Nov. 22, 2011, 10:31 a.m.

The University of California Board of Regents meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 28 from multiple locations via teleconference link including UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus, UCLA, UC Davis and UC Merced. The meeting will take place over one day instead of the originally scheduled two day period, and will include a public comment period expanded from 20 minutes to one hour.

The meeting agenda and location details can be found online at: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov28.html