Officials at the University of California, Berkeley announced Monday that the school has appealed to Supreme Court of California a lower court ruling that freezes enrollment at the same level as the 2020-21 school year.
University officials said Thursday's ruling by the state's 1st District Court of Appeal harms prospective students and prevents the school from meeting state enrollment targets. Officials said the university had planned on an enrollment increase of 3,050 students beyond the 42,347 enrolled in the 2020-21 academic year.
According to the university statement about the ruling, "If left intact, the court's unprecedented decision would have a devastating impact on prospective students, university admissions, campus operations, and UC Berkeley's ability to serve California students by meeting the enrollment targets set by the State of California."
Any reductions in the number of new students admitted would need to come from undergraduates, university officials said, as admissions notices to graduate students have already gone out for the 2022-23 school year.
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Third year student Lauren Hibbert says she’s grateful she gets to study pre-law at Cal.
"I love the environment love all the students I love how I am pushed academically an otherwise," she said.
Thursday's decision upheld a ruling in August in Alameda County Superior Court, where Judge Brad Seligman found that rising enrollment has affected neighboring housing, causing displacement and creating unacceptable noise, the group Save Berkeley's Neighborhoods said in August.
"When I moved into my house there were 27,000 students. Now it has 45,000 students. I didn’t choose to live in a town with 45,000 students," said Phil Bokovoy, president Save Berkeley's Neighborhoods.
Seligman also found the university failed at reviewing a reduction in enrollment to improve the surrounding neighborhoods.
"The judge has vindicated our efforts to hold UC Berkeley accountable for the severe impacts on our community from its massive enrollment increases which they made without public notice or comments," said Bokovoy.
Between 2010 and 2020, UC Berkeley enrollment has increased by about 18 percent or about 6,500 to 42,327 students.
"We firmly believe that UC should not increase enrollment until it creates housing for its new students," Bokovoy added.
At the time of Seligman's ruling, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said, "We are confident that the court will ultimately permit us to proceed with the (project)."
Hibbert feels lucky she has a spot at Cal, but she agrees the university needs to scale back.
"It’s no secret the university impacts the neighboring housing environment and university students displace a lot of local communities, and a lot of people who were here first to be frank," she said.
The university is asking the California Supreme Court to step in and reverse the enrollment cap. But it needs a decision fast as acceptance letters go out late next month.