The main reasons why new student fee increases should be rejected is not only will these increases price out many lower- and middle-class students, but more importantly, there is no way of knowing if the money generated by these fees will be used for instructional purposes. In fact, every thing we have heard recently tells us that student fees will not find their way back into the classroom.
As Bob Meister has shown, one reason why the UC administration wants to raise fees is that they have promised to do this in order to lower interest rates for construction bonds. While this move to use student money to build new buildings could be justified if these new buildings would help serve the educational mission of undergraduates, it turns out that most of these planned construction projects have nothing to do with undergraduate instruction (for a list of these projects, click here and scroll to bottom of the main article).
Perhaps more troubling is the recent discovery that student fees from one campus are often used to subsidize activities on the other campuses, and that campuses with professional schools end up getting most of the money. This means that undergraduates are subsidizing graduate students, and undergraduate student fees are being directed away from their intended destination. In fact, I have previously shown that most of the money generated from student fees and state funds never finds its way into the classroom, and the result is that classes get larger, and their are fewer courses in which students can enroll. Furthermore, as the UC has been raising student fees, it has been laying off the lecturers who teach most of the required courses. The university has also been eliminating many sections taught by graduate students and has increased the class size of many of the remaining sections.
Students are therefore being asked to pay more for less, while their fees are used for non-instructional purposes. If the UCs were a publicly traded corporation, it might make sense to raise fees in order to lower interest rates and cut labor costs, but the UC is a public institution of higher education: Its main function is to provide high quality instruction and research for Californians. Please come to the Regents Meeting at UCLA on November 17-19th to defend undergraduates against the move to increase the costs and lower the quality of public higher education.