Student protesters with the Occupy movement will converge on four UC campuses Monday morning to vent their fury at a meeting of the regents, with demonstrators in Davis attempting a campuswide shutdown.
The meeting, rescheduled after cancellation earlier this month because of threats of violence and vandalism, now includes a one-hour slot for student voices and other public comments, increased from the usual 20 minutes. The regents will be spread out in four locations -- San Francisco, Davis, Los Angeles and Merced -- and conduct the meeting by teleconference.
Most students -- especially those at UC Davis, the new epicenter of the Occupy UC movement since a university police officer pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters a week and a half ago -- will gather outside, en masse, expressing their discontent at what are expected to be raucous demonstrations.
Protesters accuse UC's governing Board of Regents of mismanagement, saying it "has repeatedly shown itself unfit to represent the interests of the students, faculty and workers who constitute the University of California."
The Occupy UC Davis protesters will try to shut down the campus through a general strike, during which they vow to stop people from going to classes and jobs.
"Instead, everyone will come out for rallies, lectures and teach-in topics like privatization and police brutality," said Artem Raskin, 20, a political-science student.
UC Davis authorities, however, say they hope Monday will be a normal day on campus.
"We expect students to go to class and faculty to teach," said campus spokeswoman Claudia Morain.
Proposed tuition increases aren't on the board's agenda. Instead, the regents will discuss UC's request for increased state funding in the 2012-13 fiscal year as a way to avoid another tuition hike next year.
A report to its finance committee shows that the university's finances improved in 2011. Net assets increased $414 million over the previous year, compared with a decrease of $525 million in 2010. Revenues grew by 9.9 percent and expenses increased by 5.3 percent, largely because of unfunded obligations for retiree health costs.
Many UC students are angry that their tuition has tripled over the past 10 years while academic department budgets have shrunk, diminishing the quality of education and student services. UC Davis students are also demanding the firing of Chancellor Linda Katehi and campus police.
The UC protesters will be joined, at least in spirit, by students at about 30 other schools around the nation -- from Massachusetts' Tufts University to the rural Kentucky-based Owensboro Community and Technical College. Students at those colleges have vowed to gather in support of the UC strike.
Over the long holiday weekend, the campsite at Occupy UC Davis was peaceful. It shrank but swelled again as students returned from the Thanksgiving holiday.
Those who stayed didn't go without. "A lot of community members brought us food over Thanksgiving," Raskin said.
Students have portable toilets, a cook tent, a first-aid station and enough electricity to fire up a squadron of laptops.
Campus maintenance staff members inspected a long extension cord to ensure its safety and cautioned protesters against placing propane heaters too close to tents, according to Morain. University staff members also marked underground water and electrical lines to prevent damage by tent stakes.
A doctor with Student Health Services stopped by daily and left informational brochures.
The mood stood in stark contrast to Nov. 18, when officers tasked with removing an encampment pepper-sprayed students who sat with their arms linked, triggering national outrage.
But a resurgence of unrest is expected with the return of students to campus -- and the assembly of regents.
"We want the administration of the university to be accountable to the people who it is supposed to serve. We want students to be safe on campus," said Raskin, the UC Davis student. "And we want to stop the salary increases for top management, while student tuition increases and the wages at the bottom are stagnating.
"There will be a show of force by students and faculty."
Contact Lisa M. Krieger at 408-920-5565.