By Steve Large

DAVIS (CBS13) — The Occupy protests at UC colleges, most notably Friday’s pepper-spraying at UC Davis, have received national exposure, but the question now is what if any effect they will have on tuition costs.

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State Assembly Speaker John Perez made an unannounced visit to the UC Davis quad on Monday and was asked that question by CBS13.

“I think that should be all of our hope,” Perez said of reducing college costs in California. “I’m still hopeful that we can take action that will turn back the tide on some of the increases.”

But UC Regents critic Adam Keigwin, chief of staff for Sen. Leland Yee, does not believe the emotional reactions to the police pepper spray will carry any weight in the next tuition hike vote.

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“They give everything to the executives and ignore the students,” he said. “I think unfortunately they may ignore the students again here, but I don’t think those in the Legislature can afford to ignore the students.”

UC regents who voted on a 20 percent increase this school year came out with strong language condemning police actions.

“We want all of you to know that we fully and unequivocally, support your right to protest peacefully,” regent
chair Sherry Lansing said.

It’s a university protest that’s fueled world-wide backlash, but will it lower the price of a public education?

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“That is the ultimate goal, to lower tuition, but it’s really the journey that makes it, not the end goal,” said student Emily Pickens-Jones. “It’s the way we’ve been able to do things.”