UC Community Voices Fee Increase Concerns During Regents Public Comment Session

Regents ask questions during the committee on grounds and buildings presentation

Lily Cain
Associated Students Beat Reporter

The University of California Regents Meeting began with a public comment session during which current UC students and recent alumni voiced their concerns regarding potential tuition and fee increases.

Sophia Murga, a third-year Ph.D student in Education at UC Berkeley, spoke first about the UC Student Health Insurance Plan fee increase for the 2013-2014 year. She believes the UC Office of the President should pay the debt instead of the students.

“The rationale is that the debt was created because UCOP set the premiums too low in the first place,” said Murga. “Students did nothing wrong; they paid the premium that they were supposed to.”

Another student, second-year political science major Devon Murphy, voiced his opinions on the financial aid policy, saying it is not a model that worked very long and asking the regents to work toward finding a way to make university more affordable and accessible.

UC Santa Cruz Ph.D student Eric Green discussed the extension of the Kashmiri Fee, which is from a lawsuit against the Regents in 2003. It is on the agenda for Thursday under Consent Items.

“This fee is unethical and it is concerning that it is in the consent items,” said Green. “For tomorrow, I ask that the Kashmiri fee be removed from the consensus agenda and ask that UC cover the law suit.”

Fourth-year UC Merced student Jonathan Lee spoke about professional degrees’ supplemental tuition being raised for the 2013-2014 year. According to Lee, the fees vary by campus, but all the fees were raised in a single motion in the July Regents Meeting. He recommended that the Regents advocate in Sacramento at the next meeting to increase aid for professional students.

Two UC San Diego alumni spoke about the elimination of smoke and tobacco on UC campuses. So far, UCLA and UCSD are the only two schools to implement the policy, and that the other schools have until Jan. 2014.

Finally, Bob Powell, chair of UC academic senate, concluded the Public Comment Session by speaking about the possible elimination of the referral pool of applicants some campuses have and the importance of undergraduate research, even for students who are not actively involved in research.

More people will have the opportunity to speak to the Regents at the start of Day Two of the meetings.