ReFund California to Challenge Approval of UC, CSU 2012 Budget Requests and Tuition Hike Without Open, In-Person Meetings. Calls for In-person Meetings to Consider Making Banks Pay Instead of Tuition Hikes
Dozens of students with ReFund California and the Occupy Wall Street movement were arrested for setting up encampments on Friday at UC Davis and UCLA as the movement continued its quick spread to campuses across California. The protests came as UC Regents made plans to approve their 2012 budget request behind closed doors by teleconference with at least one UC Board member calling in from Florida. The CSU Trustees similarly had approved a tuition hike behind closed doors on Wednesday in a possible violation of public meeting laws.
"The students, teachers, workers, and homeowners of Refund California are outraged by the decision of the UC Regents to allow the use of police force against campus encampments and to hold their November meeting with minimal public notice and vote on the 2012 UC budget by teleconference behind closed doors. Holding the meeting behind closed doors leads us to ask the Regents - most of whom sit on corporate and bank boards as members of the 1% - why are you afraid to hear the voices of those whom you are supposed to represent? The Regents' decision comes after they cancelled their November 15-18 in person meeting rather than face thousands of us for a discussion of the real alternatives in the Refund California Pledge to make banks and millionaires pay to refund public education.
In holding their meeting behind closed doors, the Regents are following the disgraceful example of the CSU Trustees who expelled hundreds of students and workers from their November 16 meeting before voting behind closed doors to increase tuition by 8 %. These students have already paid: Tuition has doubled since the banks crashed the economy in 2008 and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has rightly questioned the legitimacy of that vote.
We call on the Regents and CSU Trustees to convene in person meetings open to all before the December deadline for them to submit their 2012 budget requests to the Governor. In-person, open, and adequately noticed meetings are essential to keeping Regents and Trustees accountable to the public, not to corporate boardrooms. Those meetings should be devoted to considering real alternatives from the Refund California Pledge to make banks and millionaires refund public education in place of the tuition hike the CSU Trustees voted on behind closed doors. The boards should also establish a policy to allow Occupy Wall Street encampments on California campuses. In supporting these policies, the Trustees and Regents would side with students and Californians they are supposed to serve instead of their banks, corporations, and fellow members of the 1%. We ask that the legislature, Governor, and chancellors of California's colleges and universities join us in making this call to the Trustees and Regents.
We will consider taking legal action should the Regents and Trustees proceed without convening in-person meetings that are open to the public."
The establishment of new Occupy Wall Street encampments at UC Davis and UCLA follows a week of actions involving more than 10,000 students, teachers, workers, and homeowners. The week of action spawned a growing spin-off from the Occupy Wall Street movement in California to call on higher education board members to make banks pay instead of cutting funds to higher education.
On Wednesday the 16th, thousands of students, teachers and supporters converged in two locations – at the CSU Trustees meeting in Long Beach, and in downtown San Francisco where the UC Regents canceled their meeting rather than face protests. Ninety-five protesters were arrested when they launched a sit-in at Bank of America whose Director, Monica Lozano, sits on the UC Board of Regents. The CSU Trustees expelled students and others from their board meeting after students protested the closing of public comment. The Trustees then proceeded to vote behind closed doors to increase tuition by 8% in 2012.The week of action began with rallies of more than 10,000 at over 14 college campuses on November 9th was conceived of and planned in September by ReFund California, a statewide coalition of students, teachers, homeowners, workers, community members and faith leaders working to make Wall Street banks pay for a crisis they helped to create. After uniting around ReFund California’s pledge calling on the state’s higher education board members to do everything in their power to make banks pay to stop cuts to higher education, students have begun self-organizing on their respective campuses, committed to building the movement to refund public education across the state.
THE REFUND CALIFORNIA PLEDGE
Refund California has called upon the UC Regents, the CSU Trustees and other political and corporate leaders to sign the following Refund California Pledge:
To the people of California,
As an education leader, I pledge to do everything in my power to make Wall Street corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share for essential
services and affordable, equitable public education from pre-K through post doctoral. I pledge to support:
1. Increasing income taxes on California's wealthiest.
2. Closing Proposition 13’s corporate property tax loophole.
3. Implementing a federal sales tax on Wall Street financial transactions.
4. Reducing underwater mortgage debt to Wall Street to improve the economy.
5. Reversing tuition increases, layoffs, and cuts to public education and essential services – ensuring good jobs that provide healthcare and a