CSU faces restricted enrollment
November 19, 2008 8:18 PM
LONG BEACH—For the first time ever, the CSU system will be turning away eligible freshman applicants, as system-wide impaction was declared at the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday.
With $215 million already lacking from the university system’s operational costs and the state asking for another $66 million in mid-semester cuts, the CSU Academic Senate passed a resolution for impaction last week as a response to the state Legislature’s inability to provide the resources necessary to fund the 2009-2010 enrollment demand, senate members said.
“It’s unprecedented in CSU history,” SF State President Robert Corrigan said. “Never before have we been forced to deny admission to qualified students.”
According to the senate resolution, the university’s current enrollment is approximately 10,000 students above the level for which it receives state support.
Additionally, there are 21 percent more freshman applications for the 2009-2010 academic year than the current year, Vice Chancellor Allison Jones said. Jones explained that impaction occurs when the number of applications from fully qualified applicants exceeds the available academic resources.
Chancellor Charles Reed approved of the proposed impaction, which will take effect in fall 2009. The decision was officially announced by Reed and the Committee on Educational Policy at the trustees’ meeting.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made over the last 11 years,” Reed said. “It’s not fair for students, faculty and those who serve them.”
The impaction means that the CSU will not only curtail freshman admissions to all programs on all campuses, but will also add admission criteria to the existing requirements.
Also, each campus will now give priority admission to applicants from their area. For instance, San Francisco County residents will get priority for SF State while others will go on a waiting list. Priority will also be granted to military veterans and transfers from California community colleges.
Campuses are also expected to limit admission to lower division transfers and unclassified post-baccalaureate students, require enrollment deposits and implement a mandatory orientation process for new students.
CSUs that are still in the growth process, such as Cal State East Bay, are encouraged to seek the chancellor’s permission to draw from outside their immediate geographic area.
Reed said that the impaction will only be reversed if the state Legislature boosts funding to the CSU system, which is the largest university system in the nation.
“Economists say it will pretty much be 2010 when we are able to rise back up,” he told the board.
Corrigan remarked that it reflects on the general economic situation of the state. “It’s a terrible statement about the lack of finances in California,” he said.
“Obviously, the state and national budgets are really bad,” said Darlene Yee, member of the CSU Academic Senate and gerontology professor at SF State. “The senate had no other recourse than to declare impaction.”
Reed and the senate said they decided on impaction out of their desire to preserve the CSU system’s ability to provide “authentic access…to high quality facilities and academic programs to which [students] are entitled.”
“The campus can’t afford to serve students excellence and quality education, so we have to be careful in how many students we take,” Yee said. “It’s doing them a disservice if we admit them and they can’t graduate or get into classes.”
Reed said that the CSU will conduct outreaches to all high schools in California to ensure that graduating seniors who want to get into a CSU understand the impaction and make sure they turn in their application before the Nov. 30 deadline.
Members of the board expressed different concerns over possible consequences of the impaction. Faculty trustee Craig Smith said he was worried that the impaction would affect diversity in CSU campuses.
“It is very important that impaction does not disrupt our goal of diverse representation,” Smith said. He suggested that campuses put together an advisory board to ensure admission to a diverse pool of students.
Meanwhile, trustee Lou Monville was concerned about passing the burden of admission onto community colleges. “They now have the obligation to take everyone, and they also don’t have the resources,” he said.
He added that the CSU will also reach out to community colleges so that counselors there can help students meet the new, stricter transfer requirements.
Corrigan said that at SF State, efforts will be made to help students meet their academic goals in spite of the impaction and the budget cuts.
“We will make every effort to take care of graduating seniors, encourage students to graduate earlier and get their degrees in an expeditious manner,” he said.
Both students and faculty across the board are unhappy about the impaction and said they will continue to fight against it.
“We want to make sure that the new legislature understands that [budget] cuts have consequences,” said California Faculty Association President Lillian Taiz. “The fight goes on.”
“We’re not going to put up with this,” said SF State anthropology major Shwan Zandi. “There will be more rallies and protests to come.”
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