What Price Glory?
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virtue of their elective positions, both Reagan and Unruh were members
of the UC Board of Regents, and they faced off at a heated regents
meeting in the UCLA faculty center on Aug. 31, 1967. Some regents,
particularly oilman Ed Pauley, pleaded with Reagan that day not
to bring up the tuition issue. Pauley did not want to go back on
California's promise, nor did he wish to see the governor embarrassed.
But Reagan rebuffed him, replying, "I for one have no intention
of discussing anything but tuition."
on both sides were heard and the regents voted 14-7 against Reagan's
tuition proposal. Then they broke for lunch. When they returned,
Reagan was all smiles. During the break, a deal was brokered that
has held firm to this day: The regents agreed to accept a "charge"
on students so long as it was not called "tuition." The letter of
the Master Plan's guarantee of tuition-free higher education was
preserved, even as its spirit was made a mockery.
the early 1970s, the regents had imposed more than $600 in charges
a year; fees mounted steadily through the 1970s and '80s. Students
and their parents grumbled, but the increases were relatively modest
and consistent through the gubernatorial terms of Democrat Jerry
Brown and Republican George Deukmejian.
in the early 1990s, as the California economy slid into its worst
downturn since the Great Depression, the Democratic-controlled Legislature
and Republican Governor Pete Wilson increasingly saw student fees
as the way to keep the state's higher education systems afloat.
The debate in Sacramento was not about whether to raise fees, but
by how much. In 1980 UC student fees were $1,634 a year. Fifteen
years later, they had nearly tripled. And other segments of public
higher education in California were hit even harder: Community college
fees tripled in just 10 years.
fees climbed, enrollments plummeted. Estimates are that 200,000
students disappeared from California's college and university campuses
in the early 1990s. The devastation suffered by the CSU system could
be seen a few miles away from the state capitol as CSU Sacramento
closed two of its four dorms.