“The UC Regents’ decision to cancel their meeting wastes a huge opportunity for the UC community to engage in dialogue about how to make the 1% pay to re-fund public education and all Californians instead of more cuts. With more tuition increases and budget cuts on the table, it is urgent that the UC community unite around specific proposals to make banks and the 1% pay to ensure sustainable long-term funding for all colleges and universities in California. Today’s decision raises serious questions about the commitment to an open, accountable decision-making process by the Regents – many who are the 1%.
Furthermore, it is outrageous that the Board of Regents would attempt to dismiss the serious efforts of thousands of students and other peaceful demonstrators to refund public education and essential services by insinuating that our cause is motivated by violence. Only the police, acting under the direction of campus authorities subordinate to the Regents, have instigated violence on UC campuses – not the thousands of peaceful demonstrators who seek solutions to the urgent crisis of higher education in California.
The thousands of students, teachers, and others who planned to go to the Regents meeting will gather at another location to take their protest to UC’s Wall Street regents. That location will be announced as soon as possible. Students in southern California will also proceed with the planned convergence at the CSU Trustees meeting in Long Beach.”
Following widespread student, community, and worker protests last week organized by ReFund California, calling on higher education board members to make banks pay instead of cutting funds to higher education, combined with an emerging #OccupyCal movement, thousands of students were planning protests at the UC Regents' meeting in San Francisco and the CSU Trustees' meeting in Long Beach on Wednesday, November 16th. Following the protests Wednesday, students will march on banks in downtown San Francisco and Long Beach. The protest at the CSU Trustees meeting in Long Beach will continue as planned, while the mobilization in San Francisco is being changed to reflect the UC Regents’ decision to cancel their meeting.
Last week, over 10,000 students across California took to the streets, blocking traffic and marching on banks, demanding that bank executives and other corporate elite on the three boards overseeing California’s higher education system sign a pledge to make banks pay to stop cuts to higher education. Over 14 college campuses saw protests and rallies including Fresno State, CSU Sacramento, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, CSU Long Beach, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, San Diego State and San Francisco City College. The Berkeley protest ended when police used violence against the students and workers, who continued to be non-violent in the face of the baton-wielding police.
Many members of the university boards hold leadership positions at some of the nation’s biggest banks, financial institutions and corporations, which are the target of nationwide Occupy protests – including Monica Lozano, UC Regent and Bank of America Board Member. As these banks and their executives continue to profit, the California higher education system has suffered deep budget cuts resulting in the layoffs of thousands of teachers and workers, cuts to research projects vital for progress in public health and other areas, and record tuition hikes that have caused students – especially students of color – to drop out or delay education plans.
The effort is being organized by Refund California, a statewide coalition of students, teachers, homeowners, community members and faith leaders working to make Wall Street banks pay for a crisis they helped to create.
Leading up to last week’s protests, the coalition sent a letter to the members of the Board of Regents of the University of California, the California State University Board of Trustees and the Community Colleges Board of Governors, calling on them to sign a pledge saying they will support five specific demands that will make banks pay their fair share to stop cuts to higher education, restore needed state revenue and improve the economy for California families. The demands include increasing income tax on the wealthiest Californians, a federal sales tax on Wall Street financial transactions which would generate needed revenue for education, and the reduction of underwater mortgage debt, which would put more money in the pockets of middle class families.