Nellie Meyer looked over the charts loaded with numbers on San Diego State’s enrollment and admissions, trying to understand what they meant for the teens in San Diego classrooms.
It was September 2009. San Diego State was abruptly changing its admissions rules and Meyer was supposed to weigh in as part of a special committee. Under a longstanding policy, the university had to consult with the group if it wanted to roll out the changes on short notice.
But Meyer, who represented San Diego Unified schools, wasn’t sure what the changes would mean. She had never seen the numbers before. And it was almost too late for Meyer to make any suggestions. The changes were going into effect the next day. By the time the San Diego Unified school board weighed in two weeks later, condemning the changes as unfair to local students, they were already done.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After a similar San Diego State controversy more than seven years ago, the California State University system created rules that require colleges to air such changes more than a year before they go into effect. The idea was to give ample warning to students who would be impacted. Latino activists pushed for advisory committees like the one that Meyer now serves on.
But there was a catch. Universities could push through changes faster if they were in dire straits because of unexpected enrollment pressures.
And that is exactly what SDSU did.