According to LA Times (Gov. Newsom signs law to stop UC Berkeley enrollment cuts; March 14, 2022), “Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Monday that will rescue UC Berkeley from a court-ordered enrollment freeze and steep admission cuts and allow the university to resume plans to enroll more than 5,000 California first-year students [emphasis added].” In addition:
The new law in effect ends a frantic few weeks at one of the nation’s most sought-after campuses during its critical admissions period, and admissions offers will be extended as originally planned, a campus spokesperson said.
According to a press release (March 14, 2022) from the office of Nancy Skinner, California State Senator representing District 9, “SB 118, a budget trailer bill that will safeguard student enrollment at UC Berkeley and prevent student enrollment from being treated as a separate project under CEQA, passed the Legislature unanimously today.” More specifically:
SB 118 eliminates the need for UC Berkeley to slash enrollment this fall, by rendering unenforceable any current court injunction that orders a freeze or a reduction of student enrollment, including the injunction affecting UC Berkeley.
According to LA Times (Lawmakers unveil rescue effort to help UC Berkeley avoid enrollment cuts after court battle; March 11, 2022), “California legislators are fast-tracking a rescue effort to help UC Berkeley avoid slashing its in-person fall class by more than 2,600 students to meet a court-ordered enrollment freeze.”
Under legislation introduced Friday, the state’s public colleges and universities would be given 18 months to complete any court-ordered environmental review before being subject to a mandatory reduction or freeze in campus population.
If passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the legislation would take effect immediately and retroactively — allowing UC Berkeley to proceed with its original plans to enroll more than 5,000 first-year California students …
According to LA Times (How much will UC Berkeley have to cut admissions after Supreme Court decision? What we know; March 4, 2022), UC Berkeley is “seeking potential legislative solutions along with crafting plans to increase online and deferred enrollment” and will “prioritize California residents for fall in-person enrollment, both first-year and transfer students.” Also:
Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said legislators are working with UC to find a speedy solution so “all the students who were going to be admitted still can get those admission letters.”
There’s also a separate LA Times article (Proposed bill would exempt UC, Cal State from environmental review for new student housing; February 22, 2022) about a bill that would “exempt public universities’ housing developments from California’s arduous environmental review process.”
If you are in California, contact your State Senator and Assembly Member to voice your support for legislative intervention.
According to LA Times (UC Berkeley will meet court-ordered enrollment cap with online, deferred admission offers; March 3, 2022), the California Supreme Court is keeping the enrollment cap in place. However, UC Berkeley has already developed a contingency plan:
… the campus would meet the court-ordered enrollment cap by offering at least 1,500 incoming first-year and transfer students online enrollment for fall or deferred admission next January for spring semester. In addition, students who plan to be away from campus this fall on study programs abroad or in other cities will help Berkeley meet the enrollment cap. And many students graduate each winter, freeing up seats for spring. As a result, Berkeley may only need to cut its incoming 2022-23 class by a few hundred students rather than thousands as initially feared [emphasis added].
Original post (2/15/2022):
If you don’t know about this, you can read a summary of the situation from the LA Times (UC Berkeley may be forced by court to cut 3,000 undergraduate seats, freeze enrollment; February 14, 2022) or UC Berkeley (UC Berkeley statement on court decision affecting 2022-23 academic year enrollment; February 14, 2022).
First, stop panicking.
Second, if you received an email from Berkeley (current freshman and transfer applicants), know that the message is meant to rally public support (more like anger) to exert pressure on the court system and the state government in order to get a more favorable outcome for Berkeley (the UCs have done things like this in the past, sometimes at the expense of applicants/students, so I’m not a huge fan of the tactic; but it works, most of the time).
Third, the court seems to be overreaching a bit (based on my not-a-lawyer understanding of the case) and the UCs are appealing the order. Although the order to freeze enrollment may impact the Fall 2022 admit numbers, Berkeley will most likely put ridiculous number of students on waitlist to try to wait for the appeal ruling (the UCs have done things like that before too).
Fourth, the court order directly conflicts with the enrollment growth set by the state budget (which the UCs already reduced by 2/3 according to this report, under “UC Is Planning for Lower Growth in 2022‑23 Than Directed in Budget” – maybe the UCs are just using the court order as a convenient scapegoat for their own failure to meet state demand).
What should you do? If you are in California, contact your State Senator and Assembly Member to voice your outrage at the situation (especially if you vote in elections – voter opinions count more). Getting angry or upset online or at home does absolutely nothing. Call or email your lawmakers if you want something to happen.
What do I think? I consider the email Berkeley sent out as a publicity stunt (the UCs are repeat offenders of this) and I would expect the numbers in the message to be somewhat exaggerated. This is not the first time the UCs have been sued (the SAT/ACT lawsuit was just last year) and I’m sure Berkeley is working on contingency plans. If you want things to happen, you need to take action. Complaining about the court decision, the state budget, or the UC system to anyone other than your lawmakers accomplishes nothing.
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