The UC Davis General Strike is going on today. The Board of UC Regents was scheduled to meet today at UC Davis and discuss the tuition hikes. A march was planned to coincide with that meeting at 8 am. However, at the last minute the Regents decided against coming to UC Davis. Instead, they opted to have Regents at several different UC schools, and then to teleconference the meeting, something unprecedented for the Board of Regents.
At Davis, the only Regents present were the one student Regent, who does have a vote, a non-voting Regent-designate student whose term doesn’t even begin until 2012, and the speaker of the state assembly, which is a non-voting ex officio member. It is clear that the Board of Regents, in response to the planned UC Davis actions moved their meeting, moved most of the voting and important personnel to other universities, and elected to conduct the meeting via teleconference. Occupy UC Davis succeeded in disrupting “business as usual” with their strike, even before the strike began. This should be seen as yet another minor victory for Occupy UC Davis.
Occupiers adapted though to the changes and sent members into the meeting to participate in the open comments section. However, again the UC Board of Regents tried to stifle student and protestor voices. They limited speakers to only one minute, and refused to respond to any questions or engage in any dialogue with students. However, the process that the Regents set up quickly showed to be inadequate. Students, after trying to comply with the one minute rule and finding it unsatisfactory, began to speak at length about the problems they see in the UC system and some of the solutions.
Students from all of the UC schools, not just Davis, gave testimony to the ever rising tuition and additional fees that have gone up every single year, and how the rising cost of education is forcing their classmates to drop out, and preventing their siblings or friends from attending the UC system. The rising cost of tuition is working against the stated goal of diversity. Students also gave testimony to the police violence seen on UC Davis’ campus as well as the violence on the UC Berkeley campus which preceded it. Students also spoke about some of the potential solutions to these problems. Students pointed out that UC Regents are paid almost the same salary as the President of the United States. Members of the UC Regents could make a start of cutting their own salaries instead of making students pay more. Students also pointed out that some of the members of the UC Regents are also members of the boards of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and large real estate companies. Those members, if they truly believed in making education more affordable, could work in their other capacities to lobby for raising taxes on the wealthy 1%, close tax loopholes for the 1%, and force their banks to actually pay the corporate taxes they should be paying. None of the Board of UC Regents have done so. All the Board of Regents had to say on the topic was that they were “saddened” every time they had to cut the budget and raise tuition and fees on students. Students came back time and time again with “if you are so sad about raising my tuition, then why don’t you take any concrete actions to stop it?” A very fair question.
Outside of the meeting, UC professors who are supporting the strike where holding classes and conducting teach-ins which are open to anyone. Here is a schedule of the teach-ins going on today, tomorrow, and Wednesday in solidarity with the General Strike today. Hundreds of students were either speaking in the Regents meeting or attending teach-ins right outside the meeting instead of going to classes. And the day isn’t over yet.
You can find more information about Occupy UC Davis at their facebook page, or join them at the Quad or at the ARC where the Regents’ meeting is happening.