UC Irvine backs off its rescis­sions

School will read­mit many whose of­fers were ini­tially re­voked.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Teresa Watan­abe

UC Irvine, un­der fire for re­scind­ing nearly 500 ad­mis­sion of­fers, an­nounced Wed­nes­day that it would read­mit all stu­dents who main­tained good se­nio­ryear grades but whose ac­cep­tances were re­voked be­cause of al­leged pa­per­work prob­lems, such as miss­ing dead­lines to sub­mit tran­scripts.

Ap­peals from stu­dents whose ac­cep­tances were with­drawn be­cause of poor se­nior grades will be re­viewed on a case-by-case ba­sis.

“The sto­ries of our stu­dents whose col­lege dreams were crushed by our de­ci­sion to with­draw ad­mis­sions to hun­dreds of stu­dents are heartbreaking. And un­ac­cept­able,” Chan­cel­lor Howard Gill­man said in a mes­sage to the cam­pus com­mu­nity. “We are a univer­sity rec­og­nized for ad­vanc­ing the Amer­i­can Dream, not im­ped­ing it. This sit­u­a­tion is rock­ing us to our core be­cause it is fun­da­men­tally mis­aligned with our val­ues.”

Of­fer­ing his “sin­cer­est apol­ogy,” Gill­man said he

had di­rected the cam­pus in­ter­nal au­di­tor to re­view the ad­mis­sions process to try to un­der­stand how of­fi­cials un­der­es­ti­mated the en­roll­ment this year, why stu­dents who in­quired about the rescis­sions were poorly treated and how to avoid the re­cur­rence of such prob­lems.

UC Irvine’s rescis­sions cre­ated an up­roar when many stu­dents as­serted the cam­pus had un­fairly with­drawn their ac­cep­tances just two months be­fore the start of fall term for mi­nor rea­sons or no rea­sons in or­der to ease an ov­eren­roll­ment crunch. About 850 more fresh­men than ex­pected had ac­cepted UCI’s ad­mis­sion offer for this fall.

In an in­ter­view this week, Thomas A. Parham, vicechan­cel­lor of stu­dent af­fairs, also re­peated apolo­gies for dis­tress caused and ac­knowl­edged that cam­pus of­fi­cials were stricter about en­forc­ing ad­mis­sion re­quire­ments this year.

But he re­it­er­ated his con­tention that no ac­cep­tances were with­drawn from stu­dents who met all en­roll­ment con­di­tions — which in­clude re­ceiv­ing a high school de­gree, sub­mit­ting tran­scripts and test scores by dead­lines and main­tain­ing a weighted 3.0 se­nior-year grade point av­er­age with no Ds or Fs in UCap­proved cour­ses.

“The ru­mors on so­cial me­dia is that Irvine had th­ese 800 ex­tra stu­dents and they’re willy nilly snatch­ing ad­mis­sions back be­cause they can’t ac­com­mo­date them,” he said. “It isn’t true. We spend time try­ing to get kids ac­cess, not deny ac­cess.”

Parham said of­fi­cials were re­view­ing ap­peals ex­pe­di­tiously. As of Tues­day, 112 of the 214 ap­peals from among 290 stu­dents whose of­fers were with­drawn for tran­script-re­lated prob­lems had been granted. The suc­cess rate was lower for those 209 stu­dents whose of­fers were re­scinded due to poor se­nior grades; in that cat­e­gory, eight of 132 ap­peals had been granted.

Gill­man said stu­dents ousted for pa­per­work prob­lems who ended up with poor se­nior grades would not be read­mit­ted au­to­mat­i­cally. But he said his staff would es­tab­lish an ex­pe­dited process to al­low stu­dents to make the case for ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances, and to help them iden­tify other pos­si­ble path­ways into the univer­sity.

Ash­ley Gon­za­lez, a grad­u­ate of John Mar­shall High School in L.A. whose rescis­sion was fea­tured in a Times story last week, is one of the lucky stu­dents whose ap­peal worked. Her ad­mis­sion offer was with­drawn be­cause cam­pus of­fi­cials said a com­mu­nity col­lege tran­script had not ar­rived by the July dead­line. But Gon­za­lez said it had been sent in the same en­ve­lope as her high school tran­script, which was re­ceived on time. She re­ceived word Tues­day that she again was ac­cepted.

The rescis­sion fi­asco came af­ter an­other at­tempt to re­duce the ov­eren­roll­ment fell flat.

The cam­pus launched the Anteater Lead­er­ship Academy, billing it as a se­lec­tive pro­gram for Cal­i­for­nia fresh­man to re­ceive such ben­e­fits as a 50% dis­count on tu­ition, lead­er­ship cour­ses, smaller classes and “ex­clu­sive so­cial events.”

But stu­dents who joined would have to can­cel their en­roll­ment as reg­u­lar fresh­men, take a more lim­ited menu of classes in the adult ed­u­ca­tion di­vi­sion and give up ac­cess to cam­pus hous­ing and fi­nan­cial aid — de­tails not men­tioned in the ini­tial email sent out in May.

“Many stu­dents con­sid­ered it a scam,” said Rishi Shah, a grad­u­ate of Cer­ri­tos High School who ini­tially signed up but with­drew af­ter read­ing warn­ings on Face­book about it. “UCI should have been a lot more trans­par­ent about the cons as well as the pros.”

UCI of­fi­cials had hoped to di­vert as many as 500 stu­dents into the new academy, which gets its name from the school mas­cot, de­fer­ring their sta­tus as reg­u­lar stu­dents for a year to ease the ov­eren­roll­ment crunch. But with the neg­a­tive buzz, only 100 have signed up.

Parham said he be­lieved the cam­pus was suf­fi­ciently up­front in dis­clos­ing de­tails of the pro­gram.

Sarah Eich­horn, a fac­ulty mem­ber in the phys­i­cal sci­ences depart­ment, crit­i­cized the lead­er­ship academy for pro­mot­ing so­cial in­jus­tice. By deny­ing ac­cess to fi­nan­cial aid, she said, the pro­gram gives wealth­ier stu­dents pref­er­en­tial treat­ment in the form of lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties and smaller classes.

Parham said he dis­agreed with that char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. The pro­gram’s aim, he said, is to help mid­dle-in­come stu­dents whose fam­i­lies make too much to qual­ify for most fi­nan­cial aid but too lit­tle to eas­ily af­ford the full cost of at­ten­dance — an es­ti­mated $33,000 an­nu­ally.

Mar­i­ano Se­govia, a grad­u­ate of Garr High School in Cer­ri­tos, rep­re­sents just that kind of stu­dent. His mother, a nurse, earns about $130,000 an­nu­ally — too much to qual­ify for any fi­nan­cial aid but a loan, he said. He was drawn to the pro­gram’s offer of a 50% tu­ition dis­count.

“Tu­ition is pretty ex­pen­sive and I was will­ing to do any­thing to make things cheaper for my fam­ily,” he said of his de­ci­sion to sign up for the pro­gram.

Allen J. Sch­aben Los An­ge­les Times

UC IRVINE says it will read­mit all stu­dents who main­tained good se­nior-year grades but whose ac­cep­tances were re­voked be­cause of al­leged pa­per­work prob­lems. Above, a tour guide leads a group of stu­dents past the school’s En­gi­neer­ing Tower on Wed­nes­day.

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