UCSD is selling our seats to the rich

Kim Garza / Staff

Cartoon by Kim Garza

Correction: A previous version of this story refer
eed to UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla as “Prapeet” Khosla. The Sun editorial board apologizes for this error.


Trustee Humberto Peraza’s off-the-cuff remark is the most concise description of the higher education holocaust that has played out at UCSD for a decade. UCSD flat out does not want Southwestern College students. We do not bring in as much cash as foreign students. Guilty as charged.

When indignant UCSD administrators throw their arms in the air and accuse the citizens of the South Bay of “throwing rocks,” consider the evidence. For 10 consecutive years the number of South Bay students admitted to UCSD has declined. Last year UCSD took 44 percent fewer SWC students than the year before. UCSD ended its Transfer Admission Guarantee and South Bay students are as rare at UCSD as snowmen in Kuwait.

UCSD administrators have methodically executed a strategy to eliminate local students from their own region’s UC. UCSD has all but sealed shut the doors for first-generation college scholars from working class families, most of them under-represented minorities. No one here is accusing UCSD of intentional racism, but discrimination does not always burn crosses and wear hoods.

UCSD likes to boast of a diverse student body with 68 percent of undergraduate categories as “students of color.” A closer look, however, tells a much different story. UCSD has the lowest levels of under-represented students in the UC system, even though it serves the county with the most. Most of UCSD’s students of color come from other countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China) and more affluent parts of America, and they pay much higher fees than local students of color (and rent pricey student housing).

UCSD’s enrollment of Latino students is 14.7 percent, the lowest in California. The statewide average is 22.5 percent. This is shameful considering San Diego County is one-third Latino.

African-Americans are 2.7 percent of the UCSD student body, also the lowest in California. UCSD ranks second to last in American Indian enrollment with 0.6 percent. San Diego County, however, has more American Indian reservations than any other in the U.S.

Surprise! UCSD has the highest percentage of profitable international transfer students with 19.5 percent. The state average is 11.5 percent.

Historically, the community colleges in San Diego and Imperial Counties (Region X) have contributed the most under-represented minority students that transfer to UCSD. This was accomplished through the enlightened TAG program designed to provide greater access to under-represented students in the region.

For more than 20 years the minimum GPA for TAG was 2.8 and it worked perfectly. Then came the sabotage. In 2007 the GPA for TAG rose to 3.0. In 2009 UCSD opened TAG to all 112 California community colleges. TAG applications exploded in 2010, going from 408 to 1,946. UCSD claimed this was done because “geographical preferences” for student enrollment was not allowed. Hmm. A diversity statement adopted by the UC Regents says the exact opposite. It says neighborhood demographics, gender and income can be used to assign students to schools.

The hits kept coming. In 2011 the UC system allowed students to apply to multiple campuses that participated in TAG. No need to be Nostradamus to see where that would go. TAG transfer applications for UCSD increased to 8,715. More locals lost out.

UCSD continued to poison the well. GPA for TAG jumped to 3.5, higher than UCSD’s cumulative average GPA of 3.03. Other UC schools in TAG require GPAs between 3.0 and 3.2.

Despite these obstacles, students from San Diego County were still transferring to UCSD, so UCSD finally eliminated TAG all together.

UCSD’s new scam is University Link, which offers “geographical preferences” to local students. Spring 2014 saw the GPA requirements for University Link increased to 3.5.

Examining the historical trends of TAG and University Link, it is clear that UCSD is stacking the deck against San Diego County. UCSD manipulates statistics, claiming that 93 percent of new transfer students are from California community colleges. That might be true, but odds are they did not come from a college in San Diego County. Region X had a decrease of 23 percent in transfers to UCSD and SWC was hit with a 44 percent decline.

UCSD Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla used a recent South Bay meeting to accuse SWC transfer counselor Norma Cazares of “throwing rocks in public” because she challenged him on UCSD transfer policy changes that hurt South Bay students. Cazares should be commended for her integrity and courage to confront such an injustice.

The SWC response? A letter of apology to Khosla from SWC President Dr. Melinda Nish. Our president – who is truly a smart woman – made a truly bad blunder by selling out the courageous Cazares and us to curry favor with the UCSD boss. She owes Cazares a letter of apology.

UCSD is, intentionally or otherwise, engaging in class warfare. It needs to stop, now.

Khosla has answered his own question posed to this community –  “What does UC San Diego do for us?”

Judging by his recent actions, nothing.


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  • Andy Andy

    Perhaps it is not that UCSD is, as you put it, favoring the rich over SWC students. Perhaps the fact that SWC offers, outside of STEM majors and a few others, Mickey Mouse courses in which little actual learning takes place is the real reason for this,. Perhaps UCSD has done some research and discovered that SWC students, outside of STEM majors and some others, just don’t cut it.

    I’m currently a student at SWC and I’ve taken some history and sociology courses, to name a few, that are jokes, with “professors” using their classrooms as indoctrination centers for all sorts of anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-capitalist, and anti-male garbage. This is especially true in the social “sciences”, with history leading the way. To get an “A” in such courses, all you have to do is basically blame whites, Christians, capitalists, men, or Europe. And God help you if you actually admire Columbus or the Founding Fathers!!!! Oops! I meant Founding Parents!

    UCSD is no SDSU. Such useless “learning” is unlikely to impress admissions officers there. And it is likely to impress the actual professors even less!

  • Sean

    International students actually create more seats for local students…until a recession hits…then they became the answer to avoiding budget cuts. All of a sudden this new practice of selling seats to the highest bidder, which starts as a “budgetary stop-gap,” quickly becomes common practice, even in a recovered economy. Now your tax dollars go toward recruiting campaigns in China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Korea (the most common internationals) in order to attract students to take your very seat…what economist call “crowding out.” TO BE CLEAR THEN: You are literally paying to oust yourself.

    I wouldn’t expect this to change anytime soon: Nobody ever sells a cash cow.

    Is this a South-Bay problem though? It seems pretty nation wide. I think the real problem is that South Bay does not have a four-year college, while North County has two and East County has one.

  • tracy

    Great article. Interesting look in the political/economic side of admissions processes. Also an interesting proposition – that schools should privilege transfer students from that particular community, by guaranteeing admission (because they are often underprivileged).

    The comment below by Andy Andy totally misses the point! Many students attend 2 year schools as a result of their under-privileged backgrounds, and it is not their fault if some of the professors at their school are teaching “Mickey Mouse courses”. Perhaps they’d like to be studying in a more elite institution with a more rigorous & interesting curriculum, but perhaps they are not given the chance – as this article puts forth.

    • Trogan Fan

      “not their fault” doesn’t negate the fact that most are not adequately prepared.

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