Violence, destruction, protest arrests over CSU tuition hikes - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Violence, destruction, protest arrests over CSU tuition hikes

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   LONG BEACH (CNS) - The California State University Board of Trustees approved a 9 percent tuition hike for the 2012-13 school year on Wednesday, despite a vocal student protest that disrupted the panel's meeting as police tried to usher people out of the hearing room.

   After the confrontation between students and police erupted, the board members reconvened in a different room and approved the tuition hike on a 9-6 vote. The board also voted to request an additional $333 million in state funding.

   Tuition will increase by $498, meaning undergraduate student fees will go from $5,472 in 2011-12 to $5,970 for 2012-13. With campus-specific fees added in, the total cost for undergraduate students will be just more than $7,000 for the full year.

   The increase will be on top of a 12 percent tuition hike that took effect this school year, and a 9 percent increase that was imposed in 2010.  

   CSU officials said the proposed increase is necessitated by continued cuts in state funding, which they say has been slashed by $650 million in recent years, with another $100 million cut possible next month.

   "The additional revenue requested in this budget is critical to addressing the deep and painful cuts the CSU has had to absorb, and to ensure that students have access to needed courses and support services," CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said.

   "While there is still so much uncertainty in the state's fiscal condition, we wanted to provide students and parents with as much notice as possible that tuition will go up in the fall," he said. "That said, we must all work with state leaders to restore the funding needed to maintain access and quality for CSU students."

   According to CSU officials, the availability of financial aid will mean about 45 percent of the university system's students would not be impacted by the tuition hike.

   More than 150 angry protesters descended on the board's meeting, with most being forced to stand outside due to limited seating in the board's meeting room. But when the board took a break, police began escorting people out of the room, leading to a clash between protesters and officers that resulted in a shattered glass door and at least one officer using pepper spray
to disperse the crowd.

   According to the university, three CSU police officers were injured in the confrontation, with at least one suffering cuts from the broken glass. Four people were arrested.

   Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a member of the CSU Board of Trustees, voted against the tuition hike and criticized his fellow board members for casting the vote in a different room, with no members of the public present.

   "Whatever the rationale, this issue is simply too important to not allow for a full and thorough public discussion or to contribute to the perception that this process is anything less than open and transparent," Newsom said. "By doing so, I fear we are unintentionally inflaming the
widespread confusion and acrimony that continues to build around the issue."

   Newsom called on the board to put the issue back on the Dec. 5 agenda for reconsideration.

   University officials said the rules governing public meetings allow the panel to clear members of the public from the room if a person or group of people renders "the orderly conduct of such meeting unfeasible."

   State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson also voted against the tuition increase.

   "It's time to recognize that our students and our state are in crisis, and we need talented college graduates to bring California's economy back," he said. "This proposal takes us in the wrong direction at the worst possible time."

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