Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

After all the rallying and demanding that the state reinvest in higher education, yet another proposed fee increase is on the table to be voted on at the regents meeting next Thursday.

The proposal, an 8 percent fee increase for the 2011–2012 fiscal year, which equates to an $822 raise in yearly payment, is disconcerting on many levels. It reduces what little faith we as students have in the UC governing system even further. It makes an education that is supposed to be public even less accessible and depicts a obscenely clear image of the bleak future structure of the UC system.

After voting for the 32 percent fee increase last November, UC president Mark Yudof and the regents told us to go to the state legislatures, not to Yudof and the regents, and to demand that the state reinvest in higher education. They said, “March on the capitol: Rally, and we will rally with you.”

We did. Thousands of us did. We did just as they suggested, and came from all 10 UCs and demanded on the steps of the capitol for the state to reinvest in us. The state did. And yet, our fees are still going up.

The state reinvested 12 percent more in higher education than in the previous year, granting $2.9 billion to the UC system in this year’s budget — nearly half of the UC’s budgeted educational expenditures. The other half is paid for almost entirely by student fees. Around $371 million of the $2.9 billion was granted to cushion the cuts that the UC has sustained in the past three years.

Our rallying and demands worked — at the state level. And it’s still not enough.

Yudof and the regents told us that they were not the problem. They said it was out of their control, their hands were tied. So we rallied. Our demands of the state were acknowledged, and yet we saw the same end result — another fee increase. The deflection has come full circle.

Already, students pay roughly 40 percent of their education, and it must stop there. We, as a state, are embarking on a repudiation of the system that has set California apart for over a century: a public secondary education system. The increases are indicative of a trend: privatization.

We must demand that Yudof and the regents stop deflecting. Yes, the state should give more to higher education, but the regents are not powerless. It is time for them to take responsibility — they must vote “no” on yet another fee increase. They must come up with alternatives that are not in violation of the intrinsic ideals of the University of California system.

Education for the public, by the public is something to be cherished. We are losing out on the beauty of that philosophy because no one wants to pay for it. We are rapidly approaching an ideal more attuned to “education for some of the public, by the public who can afford it.”

If this fee increase passes — and let’s be real, the chances that regents will not vote in favor of yet another fee increase are about as good as Yudof offering to make less than the president of the United States — our fees will have gone up 40 percent in one year.

This number is nothing short of absolutely ridiculous. Though our outrage was heard in Sacramento last year, it is imperative that we keep our presence at the forefront of state legislation and also make our outrage heard in San Francisco.

As students in this system, we must be informed about the proposals on the table and be present at these meetings. At these gatherings, decisions are made about our education and, when the student presence is dismal, it reflects poorly on the student body and gives us less clout in the decision-making process — and when proposals such as this are on the table, student presence is even more necessary.

We must put faces behind the dollar bills. Otherwise, we are just figures on a failing business model.