University of California, Berkeley will no longer have to slash its student admissions for the fall after legislators swiftly passed a bill to nullify the effects of a local lawsuit.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 118 — after it was unanimously passed by the state Assembly and Senate — to exempt state colleges and universities from an environmental law that was used by a neighborhood group to try to limit the university’s expansion.
As a result, the university will no longer have to freeze enrollment at its 2020-2021 levels, effectively blocking it from admitting some 3,000 students — or one third of its freshman class — for the fall.
“I’m grateful to the Legislature for moving quickly on this critical issue — it sends a clear signal that California won’t let lawsuits get in the way of the education and dreams of thousands of students, our future leaders and innovators,” Newsom said in a statement, noting that the lawsuit and court orders would have been “disproportionately impacting students from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds.”
A series of court rulings in recent months had gone in favor of local group Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, which sued the school over its expansion plans, arguing that enrolling more UC Berkeley students would result in a negative impact on local housing prices and other environmental issues.
The new bill still includes requirements for the campus’s long-term plans to be assessed for their environmental impacts, per the San Francisco Chronicle.
On Monday, Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ ensured that the school “will remain committed to continuing our efforts to address a student housing crisis through new construction of below market housing.”