California State University officials said Friday that there are no plans for the governing board to reconsider its decision to raise tuition next fall, despite criticism about how the vote was conducted following a raucous meeting this week that was disrupted by protesters.
The Board of Trustees halted Wednesday’s meeting as police and demonstrators clashed outside, shattering a glass door and resulting in four arrests and injuries to three university officers.
The meeting was moved from the boardroom to a nearby conference room where trustees voted 9 to 6 to raise tuition by 9% in the next school year. But many members of the public and media complained they were given no notice that the session was resuming or were not allowed access.
In a letter sent Friday to Chancellor Charles B. Reed and board Chairman Herb Carter, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom asked trustees to put the tuition increase back on the agenda at a scheduled special meeting on Dec. 5, saying that “otherwise we contribute to the perception that this process is anything less than open and transparent.”
In a response, Reed said officials did the best they could under “volatile and chaotic circumstances” and “gathered as many persons (who were not participating in the ruckus) as we could in a situation where communication was imperfect.”
The chancellor added that “no one was excluded from the adjacent meeting room” and noted that a full public comment period had already been conducted before order broke down.
Terry Francke, an attorney for the open government advocacy group Californians Aware, said state laws governing trustee meetings allow disruptive spectators to be removed and sessions to be relocated. But Francke, who was not at the meeting, said descriptions of the events suggest trustees may have violated some aspects of the law in their handling of procedures.
Francke said, however, it was unlikely that the trustees’ action would be overturned if taken to court. “This kind of violation is not on the list that warrants a court to declare the actions taken null and void,"’ he said.
-- Carla Rivera