Zombies protest against tuition hikes at University of California regents meeting

July 18, 2012 (SAN FRANCISCO)

Just as police moved into to clear the protesters out, they left willingly. No arrests were made, but the students made sure they finished their choreographed and rehearsed statement. They were dressed as zombies, but they came to life during the UC regents meeting, dancing to the song "Thriller" while regents tried to call the meeting back to order.

UC students said their tuition debt is killing them and that's why they looked like the walking dead. Before they broke out into song and dance, they used the meeting's public comment time to make their case for no more tuition hikes. "I've come back from the debt, the debt that you all have dumped on me and tens of thousands of other students," student Charlie Eaton told the regents.

The regents actually have a plan to freeze undergrad tuition for the fall semester, but if the tax initiative on the November ballot doesn't pass, tuition will likely go up in January. The zombies say that's unacceptable. "We understand that we do have money at the UC and we reject a 20.3 percent tuition hike in the mid-year," student Davonde Jackson told the regents.

UC officials seemed amused by the style of Wednesday's protest, but say students need to take their demonstration somewhere else. "We hope the zombies will get out there and campaign for the initiative because that's really the key thing here. If that initiative passes, University of California will be able to go forward without deep cuts and more tuition hikes," UC spokesman Steve Montiel said.

At least one regent says he is as frustrated as the students."I'm glad they're here. I'm glad they're stepping up and stepping in. I'm glad they're sharing their voice. And, it's remarkable to me there are not more people that show up to these meetings," Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

The regents are still discussing the proposals including a controversial one that would increase fees for grad students, They plan to vote Wednesday afternoon.

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