SDSU admissions policy change criticized at forum - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SDSU admissions policy change criticized at forum

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CNS) - The recent decision by San Diego State University to drop its enrollment guarantee to local high school seniors who meet academic requirements drew criticism at a forum today

Paul Porter, a San Diego City College student who hopes to transfer to San Diego State, said he was "offended" by the change in the admissions policy.

"Ever since I was 12, I knew if I did this regimen, I could get into school," Porter said at the forum at the Eugene Brucker Education Center that drew about 60 people. "(SDSU would) rather pick somebody from somewhere else to go to a school right up the street from me."

Those who attended the forum, hosted by the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education, expressed worries that no matter how the numbers work out, students who have worked hard for years to meet the academic requirements will be left out.

Christina Gonzalez, a junior at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista, said the local admissions policy was critical for her because her father died two years ago, and her mother needs her close to home.

"This new enrollment policy told me I might not go to the college I grew up around," Gonzalez said.

Precious Jackson, a teacher at Lincoln High School, complained that the decision reduces the post-high school options for students.

"Not only are we tearing away their dreams, we're tearing away their motivation to keep working in K-through-12," Jackson said.

No one representing the university spoke at the hearing.

However, Tyler Sherer, the school's director of government and community relations, sat at a table outside the entrance to the auditorium with information about admissions requirements and a copy of a letter to the school board from university President Stephen Weber, saying that 37 percent was the average local student makeup of incoming classes over the past decade and that

the policy change would be implemented.

"I can't understand why the administration from San Diego State refuses to engage the community on this difficult decision," board member Richard Barrera said. Not doing so justified accusations the administration was acting in an "arrogant" and "elitist" manner.

Everyone understands that SDSU, like other schools, faces a budget crisis and has to cap enrollment, Barrera said.

"The issue is, with the enrollments they're admitting, why aren't you starting with the students from your local community," Barrera said.

Several speakers complained university officials were being elitist and even racist, expressing worries that the impact of the policy change will fall hardest on poor minority students.

Lincoln High School teacher Maria Ochoa, with the Association of Raza Educators, said "SDSU is closing its doors to undocumented students."

The Rev. Gerald Brown said the change "borders on racism."

The university made the change because budget pressures will force a 4,600-student enrollment cut next fall.

The school has over the years accepted qualified applicants within its service area south of state Route 56, and still hopes to have local students make up at least 37 percent of the Fall 2010 freshman class.

According to San Diego Unified School District board member John Lee Evans, that's a drop from 54 percent of this year's freshman class.

Nov. 30 is the deadline to apply to SDSU. Sherer said it was important for local students to still apply because no one knows how the numbers will actually work out until the pool of applicants is formed.

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