Police clash with CA students at tuition protest
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. and#8212; Police arrested and pepper-sprayed University of California students during a violent protest Wednesday over a proposed tuition increase that left four officers injured.
Thirteen people, including 10 UC students, were taken into custody during the demonstration at UC San Francisco, where the Board of Regents was meeting, said campus police Chief Pamela Roskowski.
One student was arrested for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon after a campus police officer was hit with his own baton, Roskowski said.
The officer was struck in the head after a group of protesters surrounded him in a parking garage and grabbed his baton, she said. The officer drew his gun in self-defense and called for assistance.
“It was an angry and unruly and aggressive crowd,” Roskowski said. “He had drawn his weapon to protect himself. He was very concerned about his safety.”
The names of the suspect and officer were not immediately released.
Police used pepper spray to disperse protesters who tried to cross a police barricade and enter the building where the regents were meeting. About 15 people were exposed to the pepper spray, Roskowski said.
Another officer was injured when students dismantled one of the barricades and used it as a weapon, she said. Campus police will investigate the incident, but Roskowski believes the officers showed restraint in handling the demonstrators.
Three of the injured officers were treated at the scene, and one was treated at a nearby hospital and released, said UC spokesman Pete King.
About 300 students and workers participated in the demonstration ahead of Thursday’s expected board vote on an 8 percent tuition hike, which would follow a 32 percent fee increase this year.
“We’re paying so much more for our fees, but we’re getting so much less in return,” said Jonathan Ly, 19, a sophomore majoring in political science and economics at UC Merced. “Class sizes are increasing. We’re not getting enough classes.”
Under the plan, student fees for California residents would increase by $822 to $11,124. The figure doesn’t include individual campus fees or room and board. The increase would go into effect in fall 2011 and raise an estimated $180 million in annual revenue, with $64 million set aside for financial aid.
UC officials said the fee hike is needed to maintain student enrollment, courses and services to offset unprecedented cuts in state funding that have led to faculty furloughs, course cutbacks and enrollment reductions at the 10-campus system.
The regents are also scheduled to vote on a plan to expand its financial aid program, called the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, so students from families earning less than $80,000 annually would not have to pay any tuition if they qualify for state and federal aid. The program currently covers families earning less than $70,000.
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