SDSU closes its doors to transfer contracts

Cristo de Guzman

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Marty Block, 78th District state assemblyman, hosted a town hall meeting on Oct. 20 at Hoover High School over the change in San Diego State University’s admission policy for transfer students and high school seniors.

“I wasn’t notified of the changes,” said Block, explaining his motivation for organizing the meeting. “I’ve heard of the rationale for the policy but not its process.”

Affected by statewide budget cuts of half a billion, the California State University system has been compelled to pare down its freshmen admission by 40,000. SDSU’s portion of that rationing is 4,618 within the next two years.

A dozen educators criticizing the change outnumbered the two SDSU representatives Sandra Cooke, assistant VP of academic affairs, and Aaron Bruce, director of diversity. The students who attended were mostly high school students.

“Anxiety is unnecessary and counterproductive,” said Cooke, referring to the uproar over the policy changes as stemming from “misinformation”. “Our hands have been tied in how we do things. We’ve been creative. We have empty beds. We have bills to pay.”

Andrea Guerrero, chair for the Education Consortium of San Diego said that SDSU’s “empty beds was cost neutral,” and that SDSU only needs to find “another business model” to manage this issue.

David Valladolid, president of the Parent Institute for Quality Education, pointed out that SDSU did not consult the community at large over its policy change.

“Why didn’t SDSU consult people?” asked Valladolid, expressing the sentiments that notification was already too late.

“For transfer students, the change for TAG has been discussed since March and decided in June. There was consultation of that,” replied Cooke. But for everything else, “it was so late in the cycle the time frame didn’t allow it.”

But the primary bone of contention of those against the policy change has been the perception that place-bound students, or students who by financial, socioeconomic or sociocultural reasons cannot leave San Diego County, will be neglected in favor of those from outside the service area.

“SDSU is now unilaterally changing those requirements,” added Valladolid. “This action will disenfranchise many transfer students.”

“We don’t want to enroll students that we can’t serve,” said Dr. Stephen Weber, president of SDSU, in a KPBS radio interview. “We don’t want them to come when we can’t give them classes.”

But another issue is that many have perceived SDSU as abandoning its responsibility as a post-secondary institution to local students leaving high school and entering college.

“It is not only an issue of policy but of justice,” said San Diego Community College District board of trustee member Maria Senour. She pointed out the new eligibility procedures as being “contrary to the California Master Plan for Higher Education,” a statewide policy which included the establishment of the principle of universal access and choice to the state’s public universities.

In response, the SDSU reps stated the university was committed in preserving its “historic ratio,” or average of local students to out-of-service students, which has averaged 37 percent for the last decade.

“We’ll give enough extra points to local students to preserve that historic ratio which has held for the last eleven years,” Weber said in a radio interview the following day.

For many of the students who will be turned away, the community college will be a viable option.

“The community college’s door is wide open,” said Mary Rider, a counselor at Grossmont College, quoting Frederick Douglass, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”

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