Facing uncertain budget prospects, California State University officials announced plans to freeze enrollment next spring at most campuses and to wait-list all applicants the following fall pending the outcome of a proposed tax initiative on the November ballot.Here's the big problem with this plan: You have 70,000 potential applicants (not all of whom get in in a normal year), plus let's give them 2 voting parents apiece. That's 210,000 people affected by this decision. Throw in a few sympathetic relatives and you might be able to stretch the number to 400,000. That's 1.17% of the state's population (34,000,000). 1.17% of the population is not going to be able to pressure the rest of the state to vote themselves higher taxes for a service that so few use.
The university is moving to reduce enrollment to deal with $750 million in funding cuts already made in the 2011-12 fiscal year and position itself for at least an additional $200-million cut next year if the tax proposal fails.
The move is a high-stakes gambit that could deny tens of thousands of students access to the state's largest public university system; it also pressures voters to support the tax increase. That proposal, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, is intended to avoid so-called trigger cuts that will dramatically affect the state's public colleges and universities.
The majority of Cal State's 23 campuses won't be accepting any new students under the plan. But eight campuses — Channel Islands, Chico, East Bay, Fullerton, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Bernardino and Sonoma — will accept only a few hundred students transferring from community colleges for the spring 2013 semester.
Typically, Cal State's campuses receive 70,000 applications in the spring and 16,000 students enroll.
Even if you add in the kids who would apply in the two years after this goes into effect you still have a tiny percentage of the state affected. This is not a winning strategy.
We all know there's tremendous waste in the CSU system, just as there is in any huge bureaucracy. Add to that all the waste and inefficiency in other state agencies, there are plenty of places to find money without going to the taxpayers again.
Having said all that, let me say how glad I am my oldest already has her degree and will be completely free of the CSU system in a couple of months when she gets her teaching credential, and my youngest only has another year until he gets his degree. I'd hate to be a parent with a kid considering CSU in the next few years.
UPDATE: Why not start cutting here?
A California State University panel voted Tuesday to increase compensation for the new presidents of the Fullerton and East Bay campuses, focusing renewed scrutiny on the executive pay issue.
Meeting in Long Beach, the Committee on University and Faculty Personnel approved 10% pay hikes for incoming Fullerton president Mildred Garcia and East Bay president Leroy Morishita, by a 6-2 vote.
Garcia will make $324,500 and Morishita $303,660, plus other benefits.