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Arrests follow violence at Cal State meeting over $500 tuition hike

Violence interrupted the Cal State University Board of Trustees meeting today as trustees were poised to vote on a tuition increase. The trustees reconvened elsewhere and voted to approve the $500 increase for undergraudates for fall 2012, a 9 percent hike, bringing tuition to nearly $6,000. With fees, students will pay about $7,000 per year.

One of the large glass doors leading into the California State University Board of Trustees' headquarters was smashed as protestors tried prying it open while officers held it shut. This followed the trustees going into recess when protestors would not stop talking after the public comment period ended.

University police used pepper spray on protestors. Three officers were injured and four protesters were arrested. About two dozen university police officers in full riot gear stood in front of headquarters to keep protesters at bay. There were around 150 protesters outside.

A few protesters forced their way in earlier to the Long Beach meeting and had an altercation with officers. At least three were taken away by officers.

Following the altercations, protesters dispersed.

Students have been demonstrating at the trustees meeting and on several campuses across the state.

The trustees say tuition will go up next fall unless state lawmakers boost funding for higher education. University officials said they’d hoped to avert the increase with an extra $138 million from the state. California’s $13 billion budget shortfall projection, announced Wednesday, makes that an unlikely prospect.

James Henderson is the dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences at Cal State L.A. He says he knows the chance the state will boost higher education funding is slim.

“I don’t think anyone has the sense there’s money just laying around the state is looking for a place to invest," Henderson said. "But I also think it’s a question of what are our priorities as a state. And where do we feel we need to invest."

He says CSU students face big challenges. "Our students are working 30 or 40 hours a week. They’re taking care of family members. They’re working two or three jobs. And they’re trying to get an education. And for them an increase of 9 percent is a lot. It's really difficult."

With the increase, tuition in the CSU system next fall will be triple what it was a decade ago.

UC Regents could soon adopt a similar tuition increase plan.

Cal State Long Beach senior James Suazo participated in a demonstration earlier today. He told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that CSU trustees should have considered other options.

“They needed to create a campaign to tax the wealthiest 1 percent," Suazo said. "They need to close the corporate loopholes created by Prop 13. They need to advocate on behalf of students that we can’t afford these and that we need to take the money from the people who have the money, which is the 1 percent, which is the banks, because students cannot afford this. And we can’t afford these attacks.”

KPCC's Mike Roe contributed to this story.