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Students protesting UC tuition hikes shut down regents meeting

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    University of California Berkeley student Kristian Kim throws fake money while starting a protest during a UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Gov. Jerry Brown has opposed University of California President Janet Napolitano plan to increase tuition by up to 5 percent in each of the next five years.

SAN FRANCISCO >> Dozens of University of California students protesting tuition hikes briefly shut down the regents meeting in San Francisco Wednesday, removing their shirts and throwing fake money to make their point.

”UC Regents! Put people over profits!” they yelled until UC police in riot gear lined up between the students in the audience and the regents, who left the auditorium at UC’s Mission Bay campus as the students stood on chairs and grew more raucous.

The students’ beef on Wednesday was not just about the tuition hike of up to 5 percent expected next fall and set to rise up to 28 percent over five years. Although UC officials said they had expected hundreds of student protesters to arrive — especially from UC Santa Cruz, where protesters have been especially active in recent months — only a few dozen showed up.

Students spoke just as passionately about a new campus in Richmond being planned by UC Berkeley. Students and community members alike urged the regents to make sure that UC signs a “community benefit” agreement with Richmond to ensure that residents benefit from jobs and any new housing that results from the campus that is still years away.

”This campus is a good idea for the (Richmond) economy, but it’s a danger to a vulnerable community,” said Melvin Willis, a Richmond resident. “We want to make sure that everyone is protected.”

Just as several members of the audience finished speaking, a woman stood up and shouted, “Mic check!” indicating the protest would begin.

”We, the students and Richmond community members are not your personal banks!” the woman shouted at the regents as she peeled off her blouse, reached into her brassiere and pulled out fake money. She and others doing the same thing tossed the money out and shouted, “Raise up Richmond! Not tuition!”

Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for UC Berkeley, said the Richmond campus is at such an early stage there are not even architectural drawings for it yet. Even so, he said, a UC Berkeley committee has been meeting monthly with the community to talk about the kinds of concerns the protesters raised.

The meeting was shut down for less than half an hour. There were no arrests.

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