Protesters plan rally Monday at UC Berkeley, walkouts at other campuses

UC students plan walkouts on Monday to protest proposed tuition hikes

Students protesting threatened tuition hikes in the University of California system are planning "walkouts" at multiple campuses for noon on Monday, organizers said.

In Berkeley, where the protests began last week with the occupation of Wheeler Hall, students plan to skip classes and march through the streets. They plan to pass by local high schools to highlight the impact that proposed tuition hikes -- 5% per year over the next five years -- would have on future students.

"This might stop many of them from even applying to Berkeley because it'll be so expensive," said Hannah Berkman, a UC Berkeley sophomore from West L.A. who is a spokeswoman for the protesters.

Students at UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis are also planning walkouts on Monday, Berkman said.

Beyond that, the future of the protest gets a little vague, especially with the holiday coming up.

"Thanksgiving does not mean our movement is over," Berkman said, "but we don’t know exactly what we’re going to do yet."

The protests began after UC regents voted to raise tuition unless more money is provided by the state. About 100 students were camped out in the lobby of Wheeler Hall at the height of the occupation, but that number had dwindled to something like 20 or 30 by Sunday morning, said university spokesman Dan Mogulof.

The affair has been pretty low key, according to Mogulof, with the protesters making good on their promise not to interfere with students who would prefer to attend classes.

"It's actually kind of fun, we’re all there together, it’s like a big slumber party," Berkman said. "People are making art, writing songs, all that."

After spending a couple of nights in a sleeping bag on the floor of Wheeler, which has been the site of several student protests over the years, Berkman said she returned to her apartment Saturday night.  "I just needed to sleep at home for once."

More militant rhetoric appears on a protest website, The Open UC, including a message from students at UC Santa Cruz vowing to take action there if "the guard dogs of the Regents" at Berkeley attempt to "repress, brutalize, evict, or disrupt the collective occupation at Wheeler Hall." The post does not describe what the threatened action would be.

"We understand that many, maybe most of the students, are concerned about what the future looks like in terms of finances," Mogulof said, "but I don’t think that kind of rhetoric is common and I think it’s going to get less common."

The proposed tuition hikes would affect only students from outside the state and those from California households earning more than $150,000 per year, Mogulof said.

Twitter: @jackdolanLAT

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times