Skip to content

“Administrative wet dream” puts SDSU in sticky situation

October 21, 2009 - 1:02 pm

DSCF6193[1]Sandra Cook, vice president of academic affairs for San Diego State University, scribbled notes on her agenda to take back to SDSU President Stephen Weber as a panel of educators publicly censured the school’s decision to end its local admissions guarantee at an open hearing Tuesday night. Some of what she took away from the forum, hosted by Assemblyman Marty Block, could be summed up in a tidy, succinct memo to Weber:

1. Next time, hold a public forum first

2. Reconsider raises for top-ranking administrators

3. Consider redirecting athletics money

4. You should have been there, Weber

Weber, who was invited to the event but did not attend, was accused of initiating a decade-long campaign against local students.

“It’s an administrative obsession,” said SDSU faculty member Isidro Ortiz. “Some would say it’s an administrative wet dream.”

Pat Washington, an NAACP community organizer, outlined Weber’s alleged offenses that she said began during his first year at the helm of SDSU. In 1997, Weber proposed to designate SDSU an impacted campus—meaning the school doesn’t have enough admission slots for otherwise eligible students (a notch below this year’s decision to declare majors impacted). Following the declaration in 1999, SDSU boosted its admissions criteria, which, according to a November 1999 Union-Tribune article, led to a 30 percent drop in admission of both African American and Latino students. In a 1999 letter from M.E.Ch.A., a Chicana/Chicano student organization, Weber is quoted as saying he was “delighted” with the outcome of new policy.

The trend was met by a call by CSU board of trustees to guarantee access for all eligible local students (pg. 9).

In December 2002, SDSU introduced a dual-admission program that accepted local students, but required them to defer enrollment until they completed community college course work if they scored low on English and math placement exams. The plan caused similar outrage and was scrapped.

According to Washington, administrators spent the following years developing strategies that would overstep the trustees’ decree. She cited internal documents she obtained, in particular, a document titled “Resisting the Localization of SDSU,” which refers to the local guarantee as a “provincialization of the university” and reads that “SDSU [is] becoming a great-big 4-year Community College.” It then outlines the pros and cons of various strategies including the dual-admission program and impacting majors to set higher admissions criteria, noting explicitly that these strategies could adversely affect diversity. (Click here for Page 2 of the “Resisting Localization” PDF.)

SDSU  did not have the opportunity to speak to any of these accusations during the forum.

Washington told audience members at Block’s hearing that SDSU also secured the purchase of several apartment complexes on the same day it announced its admissions changes. Associated Students Vice President of External Affairs Alyssa Bruni said the apartments were bought by Aztec Shops, which operates as a separate corporation, because rent for campus-adjacent apartments has increased significantly over the last few years. Bruni also said a move to require that North County freshmen live in dorms is due to the fact that residential life has been linked to boosting student retention.

“Some are making it sound like SDSU doesn’t want or value local students,” Cook said. “I’m here to tell you we do.”

Cook asked audience members to trust that SDSU will not let the ratio of locals to non-locals drop below 37 percent—the average over the past 11 years. Additionally, the Educational Opportunity Program, which admitted 80 percent locals this year, will not be scaled down.

But the panel’s call for SDSU to restore the local guarantee for this year’s high school seniors remained. Block’s panel members said the new policy is unfair and unnecessary, citing an SDSU senate committee report that states next year’s projected enrollment of 3,300 is still enough to support the 1,000 to 2,500 locals that were typically admitted in the past. Block, too, said at the end of the night that he supported a repeal of the decision.

Advertisements
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacinto Ortega permalink
    October 22, 2009 - 11:03 pm 11:03 pm

    Giving students equal treatment is the right policy. It’s not obvious why San Diego area students should be admitted with lower qualifications.

    Students with lower qualifications risk dumbing down the curriculum for everyone. Professors grade according to average achievement. The lower student ability is, the lower the grading and learning standard is for everyone.

    San Diego high school students already have the home field advantage. If admitted into SDSU, they can commute more easily and save money. Why is that not enough of an advantage?

    • carlos castaneda permalink
      October 23, 2009 - 9:06 am 9:06 am

      under the policy that was eliminated local students had to meet the system-wide standards established by the California State University system not a rogue campus hell bent on excluding them irregardless of their qualifications. if academic qualifications were all that was at work in sdsu’s admissions why was a former united statew marine who had served in iraq and had gpa of 4.0 denied admission when the student tried to transfer from local community college?when impaction occurred sdsu chose to establish a higher index for out of area students; it did not have to do that; but, the temptation to be able to cherry pick from students from outside the service area proved to hard to resist; besides not all professors grade to average; anyone who has been in classrooms at state know that;

      • Jacinto Ortega permalink
        October 23, 2009 - 10:53 am 10:53 am

        Is “service area” a euphemism for segregation? Pity the student who lives on the wrong side of the service area.

        The obsession with judging applicants according to arbitrary geographic formulas is absurd.

        Incidentally, have you “been in classrooms at state”? Perhaps you missed some English classes. Or perhaps state universities need to focus on raising academic standards, instead of on the addresses of applicants.

      • carlos castaneda permalink
        October 23, 2009 - 12:08 pm 12:08 pm

        all campuses have designated service areas; throughout CA students can always choose to attend local campus and are guaranteed admission into local campus; let’s not forget or obscure the fact that students have met state-wide academic standards set up by the California State University system; if those standards are unacceptable, there should be state-wide discussion of that issue; no one campus should be permitted to do its own thing; and, let’s not promote the myth that admissions are solely about academic qualifications; legacy admissions and other types of preferences that ahve nothing to do with a studnt’s academci qualifications have abounded and still abound throughout CA and U.S.;

  2. mr. mike permalink
    October 25, 2009 - 4:53 am 4:53 am

    It’s all about getting those out-of-state and foreign students because Sud-Soo can charge them full price (and all that entails: living in a dorm, charging them for food, etc.) The school is overloaded and underfunded so aiming for the monied outsiders is a “solution.” However I haven’t heard if Weber and the administration are willing to take pay cuts to keep the campus running.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: