From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: The CSU Upholds Student Equity Commitment by Eliminating Proposed Admissions Changes

February 26th, 2023
Krystel Raynes, Former CSU Student Trustee
Krystal Raynes providing public comment against the admissions proposal at the August 2019 CSU Board of Trustees meeting

A college degree is a lifeline for students and families across California to create upward mobility. Since 1960, the California State University (CSU) system has been a key player in making college dreams a reality for students–educating over 470,000 students annually and acting as the largest four-year public university system in the country. As the pandemic continues to take its toll – including its declining effect on college enrollment, college leaders have a responsibility to ensure that policies and practices broaden access to a college degree rather than constrain it. As a former student leader at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB), and CSU Student Trustee emerita, I enthusiastically applaud the CSU Board of Trustees for moving away from their proposal to require a fourth-year quantitative reasoning requirement (QR) for admissions which would have created significant barriers for students to access a CSU education.

This monumental move has been three years in the making. After the CSU’s Academic Senate QR task force released their report in 2016, the CSU moved with the intention to implement their recommendation to require a 4th year of quantitative reasoning to A-G requirements. However, listening sessions and public comments from key stakeholders showed much contention. During my time as Director of Legislative Affairs at CSUB, I remember driving for two hours with my team to make public comment against the QR proposal at the August 2019 CSU Board of Trustees meeting.

A tidal wave of concerns over equity consequences from more than 100 student, legislative, higher education, civil rights, business, and community leaders led to an independent analysis of the impact this proposal would have on student access and success.

The findings were clear: not only would this requirement disproportionately affect low-income and Black and Latinx students from accessing their chance to attain a college degree, but it would also undermine the very diversity and inclusivity that the CSU system values as the “People’s University.”

The proposed requirement would have imposed a harmful access barrier to students that lack the same resources and opportunities as their peers. Notably, today more than half of California’s Latinx high school graduates are not eligible for admission to the state’s public four-year university systems. Additionally, 60 percent of Black high school graduates are not prepared by their high schools to meet A-G courses requirements and Black students make up only four percent of the CSU undergraduate student body. Therefore, adding this proposal would have made it even more difficult for Black and Latinx students to reach their college dreams.

If adopted, the overall eligibility of high school graduates would have decreased from 41% to 34% with Black students declining in eligibility from 31% to 24% and Latinx students from 32% to 26%. This requirement would have disproportionately impacted students from underfunded and under-resourced schools like those in Central Valley, with eligibility declining from 34% to 27%, further perpetuating the cycle of racial and ethnic inequality in education.

Rather than pursuing this exclusionary requirement, the CSU system has come to understand it should shift its focus to encouraging and supporting math and science education in high schools. This could include providing resources and support for schools that may not have the means to offer these courses or additional support and resources for students struggling in math and science courses. By investing in the success of all students, the CSU system can better uphold its commitment to accessibility and diversity.

I believe that higher education has an obligation to be accessible and inclusive for all individuals. On January 25th, the CSU Board of Trustees took action to finally abandon this harmful proposal, showing that the CSU upholds its commitment to student equity, allowing educators and students to focus their energy on proven strategies to increase college access and student success.