Hexbyte Glen Cove University of California regents approve rare tuition hike thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove University of California regents approve rare tuition hike

Hexbyte Glen Cove

In this May 17, 2019, file photo, Michael Drake answers questions during an interview in Columbus, Ohio. University of California regents on Thursday, July 22, will take up a multi-year tuition increase proposal that officials say is needed to keep campuses competitive, increase aid for low-income students and give families some financial predictability. The office of UC President Michael Drake said that an accompanying increase in financial aid would more than offset increases in tuition. Only students whose families earn $150,000 a year or more would benefit from keeping tuition flat, it said, whereas everyone else would benefit from more financial aid. Credit: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File

University of California regents on Thursday approved a multiyear plan to raise tuition and fees at the system’s 10 campuses.

The proposed increase is the first since 2017 and had been criticized by opponents as a “forever hike.” University officials say the increase is needed to maintain the quality of the public university system and provide more to students.

The proposal calls for tuition and fees to rise by 2% plus inflation for new undergraduates starting in the 2022-23 academic year. UC officials estimate that will amount to an additional $534, putting tuition and systemwide fees at just over $13,000 a year for in-state students. The estimate does not include additional campus-based fees.

That amount would stay flat for those students for up to six years. Increases for incoming freshmen in the following years would gradually decline from 1.5% to 0.5% plus inflation until the 2026-27 , when increases would be based only on inflation.

However, regents also voted to visit the issue in five years, and the board at that time will have to reauthorize the plan. The vote was 17 in favor and 5 opposed.

Kalli Zervas, a senator with the Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley, said she was “absolutely appalled” that leaders would consider raising costs on low-income students such as herself.

“How dare you parade yourself as a diverse system?” she told regents. “At this rate, you might as well only accept the wealthy students, as you’re making it nearly impossible for the rest of us to attend.”

In this Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, students march under Sather Gate during a tuition-hike protest at the University of California in Berkeley, Calif. University of California regents on Thursday, July 22, will take up a multi-year tuition increase proposal that officials say is needed to keep campuses competitive, increase aid for low-income students and give families some financial predictability. Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

UC President Michael Drake and others said that an accompanying increase in financial aid would more than offset increases in tuition. Only students whose families earn $150,000 a year or more would benefit from keeping tuition flat, it said, whereas everyone else would benefit from more financial aid.

Even with an increased $11 billion in the California budget for UC this year, officials say has not kept pace with enrollment growth. State funding has gone from nearly $40,000 a in 2000 to an estimated $25,200 in 2021, the office says, while enrollment has increased from 171,000 to 292,000 over the same time period.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, warned against tuition increases for both UC and the California State University system in January when he released his initial state budget.

“Right as students and families continue to struggle to recover from the adverse impacts of this pandemic, this proposal would lock-in inequitable fee increases for the foreseeable future,” the University of California Student Association said in a statement, calling the proposal a “forever hike.”

The University of California has a strong public mission and is invaluable in promoting social and economic mobility, said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, in an op-ed published last year to support the increase.

“For a public university, there are only three choices: the state subsidizes, or tuition goes up, or quality gets cut,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “The only way to make sure that the University of California remains excellent is to ensure that it has adequate funds.”

The office of the UC president said in-state tuition and campus fees at comparable public universities in Virginia, Illinois and Michigan average around $17,000, with increases ranging from 24% to 56% since 2011, at the same time UC tuition has gone up 6%.

The Board of Regents was scheduled to vote on a version of the tuition proposal in March 2020, but deferred action amid the pandemic.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Snails carrying the world's smallest computer help solve mass extinction survivor mystery thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Snails carrying the world’s smallest computer help solve mass extinction survivor mystery

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Partula (Partula) hyalina Broderip, 1832. Credit: CC0

More than 50 species of tree snail in the South Pacific Society Islands were wiped out following the introduction of an alien predatory snail in the 1970s, but the white-shelled Partula hyalina survived.

Now, thanks to a collaboration between University of Michigan biologists and engineers with the world’s smallest computer, scientists understand why: P. hyalina can tolerate more sunlight than its predator, so it was able to persist in sunlit forest edge habitats.

“We were able to get data that nobody had been able to obtain,” said David Blaauw, the Kensall D. Wise Collegiate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “And that’s because we had a tiny computing system that was small enough to stick on a snail.”

The Michigan Micro Mote (M3), considered the world’s smallest complete computer, was announced in 2014 by a team Blaauw co-led. This was its first field application.

“The sensing computers are helping us understand how to protect endemic species on islands,” said Cindy Bick, who received a Ph.D. in ecology and from U-M in 2018. “If we are able to map and protect these habitats through appropriate conservation measures, we can figure out ways to ensure the survival of the species.”

P. hyalina is important culturally for Polynesians because of its unique color, making it attractive for use in shell leis and jewelry. Tree snails also play a vital role in island forest ecosystems, as the dominant group of native grazers.

How Society Island snails were wiped out

The giant African land snail was introduced to the Society Islands, including Tahiti, to cultivate as a food source, but it became a major pest. To control its population, agricultural scientists introduced the rosy wolf snail in 1974. But unfortunately, most of the 61 known species of native Society Islands tree snails were easy prey for the rosy wolf. P. hyalina is one of only five survivors in the wild. Called the “Darwin finches of the snail world” for their island-bound diversity, the loss of so many Partula species is a blow to biologists studying evolution.

“The endemic tree snails had never encountered a predator like the alien rosy wolf snail before it’s deliberate introduction. It can climb trees and very quickly drove most of the valley populations to local extinction,” said Diarmaid Ó Foighil, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and curator of the U-M Museum of Zoology.

In 2015, Ó Foighil and Bick hypothesized that P. hyalina‘s distinctive white shell might give it an important advantage in forest edge habitats, by reflecting rather than absorbing light radiation levels that would be deadly to its darker-shelled predator. To test their idea, they needed to be able to track the light exposure levels P. hyalina and rosy wolf snails experienced in a typical day.

Field work in Tahiti shows P. hyalina can take 10x more light

Bick and Ó Foighil wanted to attach light sensors to the snails, but a system made using commercially available chips would have been too big. Bick found news of a smart sensor system that was just 2x5x2 mm, and the developers were at her own institution. But could it be altered to sense light?

“It was important to understand what the biologists were thinking and what they needed,” said Inhee Lee, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh who received a Ph.D. from U-M electrical and computer engineering in 2014. Lee adapted the M3 for the study.

The first step was to figure out how to measure the light intensity of the snails’ habitats. At the time, the team had just added an energy harvester to the M3 system to recharge the battery using tiny solar cells. Lee realized he could measure the light level continuously by measuring the speed at which the battery was charging.

After testing enabled by local Michigan snails, 50 M3s made it to Tahiti in 2017. Bick and Lee joined forces with Trevor Coote, a well-known conservation field biologist and specialist on the French Polynesian snails.

The team glued the sensors directly to the rosy wolf snails, but P. hyalina is a protected species and required an indirect approach. They are nocturnal, typically sleeping during the day while attached underneath leaves. Using magnets, the team placed M3s both on the tops and undersides of leaves harboring the resting P. hyalina. At the end of each day, Lee wirelessly downloaded the data from each of the M3s.

During the noon hour, the P. hyalina habitat received on average 10 times more sunlight than the rosy wolf snails. The researchers suspect that the rosy wolf doesn’t venture far enough into the forest edge to catch P. hyalina, even under cover of darkness, because they wouldn’t be able to escape to shade before the sun became too hot.

“The M3 really opens up the window of what we can do with invertebrate behavioral ecology and we’re just at the foothills of those possibilities,” Ó Foighil said.

The article in the journal Communications Biology is titled, “Millimeter-sized smart sensors reveal that a solar refuge protects tree snail Partula hyalina from extirpation.”



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