By Vanguard Staff
Sacramento, CA – An appellate court decision to restrict enrollment at UC Berkeley has triggered a huge and growing backlash. The latest shoe to fall was Governor Newsom filing an amicus brief in Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods v. Regents of the University of California, a case before the California Supreme Court that involves issues of college access and affordability, the state’s housing affordability crisis, and creating new pathways to success for Californians.
According to a release from the Governor’s office on Friday, “The brief argues that the Supreme Court should block a lower court’s order capping enrollment while the ruling is under appeal because the order would undermine critical priorities of the state.”
In the brief, they argued, “The Court of Appeal’s decision would undermine these longstanding priorities of the State and force UC Berkeley to shut the door on over 5,000 potential college freshmen and transfer students, depriving the opportunity for 1 out of every 3 undergraduate students who would have otherwise enrolled.”
The Governor’s brief adds, “This will have a disproportionately disparate impact on students from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds.
“We can’t let a lawsuit get in the way of the education and dreams of thousands of students who are our future leaders and innovators,” said Governor Newsom. “I urge the Supreme Court to step in to ensure we are expanding access to higher education and opportunity, not blocking it.”
In the brief, the Governor argued, “The State has a profound interest in maintaining – and strengthening – its exceptional system of public higher education, with its focus on access and affordability, equity, and innovation. The State’s public higher education system drives equitable and upward mobility, helping first-generation and lower-income Californians realize their full educational and professional potential.”
The Governor’s office in the brief noted that the state, consistent with the Governor’s budget priorities, has made historic investments in higher education, including a total of $47.1 billion in the last enacted budget.
“Expanding college access is the keystone of the higher education vision, with the state supporting expanded enrollment of nearly 5,000 full-time equivalent students within the UC System and nearly 10,000 full-time equivalent students within the California State University System in the 2019-20 budget,” the Governor’s office said.
The Governor’s California Blueprint proposal builds upon these priorities by expanding access to education at all levels, with a focus on expanding enrollment for in-state residents and community-college transfers at the UC System, including UC Berkeley.
They have called for increasing enrollment by more than 7000 from 2023-24 through the 2026-27 school year, with a significant portion of the new enrollment growth occurring at UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, and UC San Diego—tracking demand from prospective students and families.
In addition, the state would be expanding CSU enrollment by 14,000 over the same period.
“In turn, both systems have committed – in exchange for historic investments – to close equity gaps in graduation, expand access for transfer students, create debt-free pathways, and increase by 25 percent the number of graduates entering into careers in climate action, health care, education, and technology,” the Governor’s office said.
The Governor adds, “The impact of restricting admission to UC Berkeley could forever change the lives of over 5,000 students, especially students from disadvantaged backgrounds. UC Berkeley provides an unmatched opportunity for low-income students, students from diverse backgrounds, and transfer students to access a high-quality education at a prestigious university at public-school tuition rates.”
UC Berkeley contends that it could stand to lose $57 million from decreased enrollment.
The Governor’s brief argues, “Not only will this loss have cascading impacts on UC Berkeley, as detailed in the Regents’ Petition, but it will severely undermine the Governor’s aforementioned priorities and strategic investments in higher education.”