SACRAMENTO — Today, AB 1215, Assemblymember Boerner Horvath’s bill, which responds to incidents of bought-and-paid-for acceptances by installing a strict firewall between admissions and philanthropy staff, passed the Senate on a 38 – 0 bipartisan vote.
The bill also requires the verification of an applicant’s participation in a sport before and after their arrival on campus — a direct response to some of the more extreme tactics used by wealthy parents to jump the line in UC admissions.
“These changes will help restore integrity to the UC system’s admission process,” said Assemblymember Boerner Horvath. “Public service is central to the mission of the University of California, and when it fails to honor the principles of fairness in favor of connections and wealth, it fails its mission.”
In May of 2019, while the news of the FBI’s Varsity Blues investigation was breaking, implicating several UC campuses, Assemblymember Boerner Horvath requested a state-level audit of the system’s admissions practices. After the State Auditor’s Office released a report detailing the inappropriate admissions of 64 wealthy applicants and a lack of consistent decision criteria, Assemblymember Boerner Horvath and Assemblymember Kevin McCarthy introduced AB 1215 as joint-authors to capture the Auditor’s key recommendations as they pertain to college athletics.
“For every student admitted through bribery, there is an honest and talented student rejected,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “Whether a UC campus admits 1 student by fraud, or 100, it is wrong, and it denies admission to honest, qualified students who have worked hard to earn their place at the UC.”
While the Office of the President has started implementing reforms in line with its own audit, the State Auditor’s report makes clear that the internal recommendations did not address significant aspects of the UC admissions process – namely the inadequate training and lack of monitoring of application reviewers. The audit also finds that the Office of the President lacks a minimum set of protocols and procedures to guard against improper decisions and has failed to monitor the admissions practices at all nine UC undergraduate campuses.
AB 1215 now awaits the Governor's signature, and if signed, will become law next year.