Many at Cal State Support Move to Raise Standards

Times Staff Writer

A sampling of Cal State Fullerton students on Wednesday found that many support a move by university officials to raise admission standards, although some fear the effect on minority enrollment.

Students at the university said the change would help to increase the school's academic standing and would keep out those more interested in socializing than studying.

A Vietnamese immigrant, Tuan Pham, 28, said: "If they want to go to Cal State then they'll have to work harder to get in here."

Other undergraduates agreed. Mike Gulko, 29, referring to the fact that only about one in four Cal State freshmen graduates from the system within five years, said: "A 75% attrition rate is absurd in an institution like this. This way we'll get better students."

Laura Miller, 23, said: "The harder a school is to get into, the more it's respected."

But other students said the plan, which would require students to take 15 academic courses in high school, would reduce the number of minority students able to enroll.

The vice president of the Mexican-American Engineering Society, Robert Navarro, said the intention is good but the move "will discourage a lot of (minority) students. Even now they're having a tough time getting into the school," he said. "Most of my friends in high school didn't know what courses to take to get into a university."

Keith Solomon, 21, a psychology major, who attended an inner-city high school in Los Angeles, said: "I think it's unfair. Most minority students get a slow start so they're behind. There are not enough hard-core classes at most minority schools."

An officer of a Latino organization, Christina Baltazar, 21, said: "It might make them scared to apply to the school." Baltazar is the vice president of the Personnel Management Assn. of Aztlan, which sponsors student career planning conferences and seminars, she said.

"Many minorities are in special programs and aren't prepared for college. They (administrators) just try to get them out of high school, not into college," Baltazar said.

A senior marketing major, Rhonda Galbreath, 23, said: "It's unfortunate that some students who have the ability should not have the chance to go to college. They should let them in and give them remedial courses so they can catch up."

The faculty adviser to the Multi-Cultural Council at Cal State Fullerton, Raymond Navarro, said: "The high schools are not ready for this; maybe in five years, but not now. It seems like a lot of students won't be prepared for this."

Schools are "still trying to get Latino students just to graduate," he said. "The emphasis has to be placed on counseling and support, then talk about requirements."

Year of Math Added

Beginning in 1984, students entering the Cal State University system were required to have taken at least fours years of English and two years of mathematics. The new standards would add another year of mathematics and would require courses in science, history, foreign language and art.

Of Cal State Fullerton's almost 23,600 students, about 500 are black, 1,800 Latino, 2,500 Asian, 250 Native American and 300 other minorities. Only about one in eight minority students in the Cal State system graduates from the system within five years.

But some at the university said the additional requirements would not lock minorities out of the university.

A member of Cal State Fullerton's Student Council, David Baer, said: "There's the subtle message that if you say minorities won't be able to get in with higher standards, then minorities can't learn. Why should this necessarily exclude minorities?" But, he said, the "issue needs to be addressed in the high schools. Remedial education in college takes away from being able to offer higher education."

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