UC Berkeley declines group’s offer to admit 1K more students

FILE - Students walk on the University of California, Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Aug. 15, 2017. A group of residents that successfully challenged the university to limit its undergraduate enrollment offered to allow 1,000 more students in the upcoming academic year. Save Berkeley Neighborhoods said Saturday, March 5, 2022, it's willing to settle a lawsuit with the prestigious public university if UC Berkeley ends its effort to get out from this week's court order to cap enrollment to the 2020-21 school year level. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
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Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — A group of residents that successfully challenged the University of California, Berkeley to limit its undergraduate enrollment offered to allow 1,000 additional students in the upcoming academic year. But the university declined, saying enrollment decisions are not up to “a small group of litigants.”

Save Berkeley Neighborhoods said in a statement that it would agree to a temporary or partial stay of Thursday’s state Supreme Court ruling to freeze next fall’s enrollment at 2020-21 levels, meaning the prestigious public university must accept about 3,000 fewer students than planned.

The ruling was a victory for the group, which argued that UC Berkeley has failed to address the effect of increased student enrollment on housing, homelessness, traffic and noise. Supporters of the university lamented that the lawsuit was dashing the dreams of thousands of students.

In the statement made public Saturday, Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods offered to allow the university to enroll 1,000 more students provided 90% of them are California residents and if the University of California ends its effort to stop fighting the enrollement cap through the courts and state Legislature.

The group’s representatives said they were “willing to enter into settlement talks based on the principle that enrollment growth can only take place with no further pressure on the City of Berkeley’s housing market.”

However, UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof told The San Francisco Chronicle that enrollment decisions in the UC system are made by elected representatives in California — including the governor, the UC Board of Regents and the office of the UC president. He said that university officials “will not provide a small group of litigants with the ability to tell the University of California how many students to enroll.”

The university plans to present its case before the Court of Appeals this summer. In the meantime, it said it will comply with the court order and try to keep prospective students by increasing online enrollment and asking some to delay enrollment until January 2023.