The University of Puerto Rico announced that it will roll back a huge fee increase that sparked years of massive student protests throughout the island, as Puerto Rico’s new governor pledged to increase funding to the university.
This is big.
Students shut down ten of eleven UPR campuses for two months in the spring of 2010 in an effort to stop the fee hike, but university administrators later reneged on a pledge to withdraw it. Dozens of students were arrested and beaten in January 2011 as the fee went into effect, as police occupied UPR’s Rio Piedras campus for the first time in more than three decades.
The 2011 protests led to the resignation of UPR’s president, but failed to stop the hike, and the student movement went into decline after a widely publicized assault on the Rio Piedras chancellor. The UPR budget cuts, fee, and protests damaged the reputation of governor Luis Fortuño, however, and in November Fortuño was defeated for re-election by Alejandro García Padilla, a UPR graduate whose brother served as president of the university prior to Fortuño’s 2009 election.
During the campaign García Padilla pledged to roll back the $800 fee, which had raised the cost of attending UPR by as much as fifty percent. As García Padilla took office early this month UPR student leaders called on him to keep his promise, and on Saturday the university’s board of directors announced that he had promised them the funding to do just that.