Message from the Director of Admissions

eSlug Newsletter Winter 2017
Michael McCawley (right) talks with a family at a recent UCSC Admissions event. Photo by Dani Milner.

Michael McCawley (right) talks with a family at a recent UCSC Admissions event. Photo by Dani Milner.

The start to the new year has been quite a whirlwind on many levels. Our nation saw a new president inaugurated, and no matter what your political leanings, the weeks since that time have created a turbulent time for many inside and outside the United States. Our state has seen a wet, and sometimes wild, winter, perhaps signaling an end to our historic drought. On a much smaller scale, our campus has seen record applications for fall 2017, which is what has occupied almost all of my and my staff’s time during these first two months. Yes, it has been quite the whirlwind, and despite one of the wettest winters in recent history, we’re still here and moving toward releasing our decisions for freshman applicants on March 15, and two days later we’ll begin releasing our decisions on transfer applicants, concluding on April 30. Those are exciting dates to look forward to for our applicants and their families, but this year the nation’s politics have dominated these last two months, and I feel the need to address some of what’s occurred in relation to our goals as a campus.

As I write this, it has been 38 days since Donald J. Trump took the oath of office, making him the 45th President of the United States. In those 38 days there have been several executive orders issued that have unnerved people living in the United States and those living in countries around the world. In my capacity as an admissions officer for many decades, I was concerned about the message two of these orders would have about our ability to maintain access and opportunity for students from California and other states in the nation, and students from other countries.

I respect people’s political choices, even when they are opposed to my own, but for all of us involved in education, I think we share common values that focus on students achieving their educational goals. Many of us have worked with students who were born in the United States, but given their parents’ non-citizenship status, are considered “undocumented.” The rhetoric and actions emanating from the White House these days are making these undocumented students and their families fearful of deportation, thus blunting their dreams of achieving a degree from a university such as UC Santa Cruz. I want to reassure these students, and you as their champions, that we will continue to work with these students to make their dreams a reality.

Over many years, I’ve witnessed first-hand the success of undocumented students at UC Santa Cruz. I’ve seen our campus take the lead in providing support systems to help these students earn their degrees, and I’ve seen our alums reach back to provide support to further those successes. As a California public institution, we have a responsibility to serve all of California’s high school graduates, and for those who meet our admissions selection criteria, I want to see them enroll at UC Santa Cruz without fear of deportation. I realize that immigration reform is a tough topic, but I would hope that we can find common ground to not punish students who were born in the U.S. and graduate from one of our nation’s high schools.

It has also been disheartening to see the effects of the executive order banning people from certain countries. Many of you who work with international students know the value that those students bring to our campuses. International students and their families are now questioning whether pursuing their college degree in the United States is a good idea. We’ve heard that some counselors are advising these students to steer clear of the U.S. right now, again based on the rhetoric and actions from the White House. My heart sinks when I hear this, and I firmly believe we all lose when the world’s students can’t explore all their options when pursuing their educational dreams.

I believe that now, more than ever, we are a global society, and as such, we need to continue to work together to maintain access and opportunity to campuses such as ours. It is that thought that led me to write to all of our fall 2017 international applicants, trying to reassure them that the nation’s politics are not used in our selection of which students to admit. You can find that statement on our web site if you’d like to read it for yourself:

And if you haven’t already read the statement from UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC Chancellors issued on January 29, please take the time to read it now:

As you can probably tell, I’m passionate about maintaining access to universities such as UC Santa Cruz, and I believe every one of you who receive this newsletter are too. It is with that collective ethos that I send you my gratitude for your commitment in helping students achieve their educational dreams, no matter where in the world they come from. My best to each of you as 2017 continues!