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University of California Favors Foreigners By: Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross
SFGate.com | Monday, March 29, 2004

Despite state budget cuts that mean saying "no'' to 3,200 UC- eligible California high school graduates this year, the University of California is keeping the door open for thousands of foreign and out-of-state students.

"I feel very let down,'' says Suzanne Sloane, the mother of an East Bay high school senior who was among those caught up in the budget crunch.

Since adopting its Master Plan in 1960, the University of California has prided itself on finding a place for all of the state's UC-eligible applicants.

But with budget cuts forcing UC to slash enrollment by 10 percent, officials say they can no longer live up to the commitment -- and bouncing foreign and out-of-state students to make way for California residents apparently isn't an option.

"One of the strengths of the University of California is the diversity of its student body, and that includes students from out of state as well as out of country,'' said Hanan Eisenman, spokesman for the UC president's office.

Of the roughly 55,000 freshmen admitted to UC's eight undergraduate campuses last fall, 4,900 were nonresidents -- or nearly 9 percent. And while UC officials couldn't provide us with numbers for the coming year, saying admission notices are still being mailed out, they acknowledge the percentage of foreign and out-of-state students offered slots probably won't vary much from past years.

"If you are going to be a world-class university, you have to draw students from all over. ... It's part of your undergraduate experience,'' Eisenman said.

"That's a lot of hooey,'' countered Sloane, who argues that California already has a diverse population with large numbers of foreign-born residents.

"If they honored their mandate for California students, they would still have a diverse population,'' Sloane said. "This is not the Midwest.''

But Eisenman insists California students are the focus of the system's enrollment effort -- and notes that in-staters made up more than 9 out of 10 members of this year's freshman class.

Besides, he said, there are other reasons for UC to open its doors to out- of-staters, including the fact that nonresidents pay more than full freight.

And that load is about to get substantially heavier, because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing a 20 percent hike in nonresident tuition next year. That would put the annual cost of attendance for out-of-state and foreign students at $24,672, compared with $6,028 in fees for in-staters.

In other words, Eisenman said, "Nonresidents pay more than the cost of their education.''

What's more, he said, California has been warned by other states that "if we stop taking their students, they will stop taking ours.''

All of which is cold comfort to folks such as Sloane and her husband, both of whom attended UC campuses, and to her father-in-law, who taught at UC Berkeley for nearly 30 years.

"We were all raised with the idea that California has a great public university system, and that if our children met their standards they would be able to avail themselves of this system,'' Sloane said.

"And that's not true.''

Postscript: A couple of weeks back, Betty White, a community activist in San Francisco's Marina neighborhood, was struck and killed by a Municipal Railway bus while she was crossing the street at Chestnut and Laguna. The tragedy also spelled trouble for her 14-year-old dog, Hobo, who wound up at the animal shelter.

Concern for Hobo, a Samoyed mix who suffered from a number of ailments including arthritis and liver disease, rose all the way to Mayor Gavin Newsom's office, especially after rumors started circulating that Hobo might be euthanized.

We are happy to report that Hobo will be neither destroyed nor made homeless. The shelter, with the help of volunteers, has found her a new home, on a 12-acre spread in Prunedale just north of Salinas.

"The dog was never in danger of being euthanized,'' said Animal Care and Control director Carl Friedman. "She's going to get herself a great home for as many years as she has left on this planet.''

Cease-fire: It looks like that feud that has kept tensions high and cops rolling to a fashionable section of San Francisco's Russian Hill for months may soon be coming to an end.

One of the skirmishing households has decided to move.

It was a fight that pitted Carmella Scaggs, the once very social and now very private ex-wife of blues rocker Boz Scaggs, against her neighbors on tiny Russian Hill Place -- Greg and Diana Robinson, both of whom work in the high- tech industry.

As we first reported a few weeks back, the battle royal -- which started over a parking spat -- had the neighbors accusing each other of incessant late-night doorbell ringing, vandalism, stalking and even assaults. Eventually both sides were racing to court to get restraining orders, detailing each other's supposed abuses and lies.

Well, neighbors tell us a "For Sale'' sign recently went up on the Robinsons' home. The asking price: $2.95 million.

Reached Friday, Greg Robinson declined to comment on the couple's decision to leave, though word has it the planned move was prompted at least in part by a job change.

Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross appear Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. They can also be heard on KGO Radio on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Phil Matier can be seen regularly on KRON-TV. Got a tip? Call them at (415) 777-8815, or e-mail them at matierandross@sfchronicle.com.

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