UCSB students marched on Monday in opposition to proposed tuition hikes for the entire UC system. With the six-year freeze on tuition expiring, college students demonstrated against an at least $280 increase in fees next school year. The noon walkout at UCSB, held in unison with others system-wide, started at Storke Tower, snaking across campus until landing at The Arbor.
After the demonstration, The Santa Barbara Independent caught up with Victor Garcia, an organizer with the UCSB Activist Network, which helped organize the event. He explained that tuition should actually be going down, not up. “Personally what I would like to see is a downward trend or at least a fair freeze,” he said. In its infancy, the UC system was intended “to be free to everyone in California,” he added. “We will not accept ever-increasing tuition as our reality.”
UCSB Activist Network grew out of UCSB for Bernie. They now have about 15 members, not necessarily Bernie Sanders supporters, Garcia said. “Anyone who feels passionate about something can get involved,” he said. “We are not special.” Asked about the current level of activist energy on campus, Garcia said, “People are waking up.”
Garcia, who is a fourth-year student studying international relations, explained his activism work at UCSB compelled him to him to stay in politics in the United States after college. He previously planned to move abroad to work for an international nonprofit. Garcia talked about recent anxiety on campus among some students following the election of Donald Trump. “There are student leaders who are undocumented,” he said. “It has really hit home that a lot of these people’s situations are very uncertain.”
Last week, as many as 100 UC students protested at the UC Regents meeting, including one UCSB student who spoke during public comment. The meeting saw objection to tuition increases and also talk about the possibility of “sanctuary campuses.” The concept is generally that university officials would not comply with the feds should they try to deport undocumented students or staff.
The Regents will take up the proposed tuition hikes at their next meeting in January. UC officials say moderate increase will help the university’s long-term sustainability and financial aid program while reducing the time it takes for all students to graduate. In addition, the increase “could be lowered if the state provided additional funds above UC’s base budget adjustment,” according to a statement on the University of California website.