Stuck with a $535 million gap in their budget, a University of California Board of Regents committee met at UCLA Wednesday and approved a plan that would raise annual undergraduate tuition fees above the $10,000 mark.

The proposal that would see annual undergraduate costs reach $11,302, including campus-by-campus student-union fees and other charges, represents a near tripling of what UCLA students paid ten years ago.

Not surprisingly, many students went ape-shit on the Westwood campus, prompting UCLA police to shut down a public section of Covel Commons, where the meeting took place.

Officers responded to raucous protests in riot gear. The Daily Bruin newspaper at UCLA reports that 14 protesters were arrested, including six students who sung “We Shall Overcome,” during the finance committee meeting.

The tuition-hike proposal is expected to go to the Board of Regents at UCLA tomorrow.

The Regents will probably approve the two-tiered hikes: You can't squeeze blood from a turnip. The increases are part of a deal the system struck with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a way for the board to avoid even deeper cuts.

Still, it's sad to see a UC system that was once admired around the world for its ability to give a world-class education to working-class people become an elite institution on par with private universities. While some of the schools offer private-level education, the system still belongs to the people — people who can't afford to send their children there anymore.

LA Weekly