LOS ANGELES - In a reversal of position in response to an ACLU of Southern California lawsuit, Beltran v. UC Regents, the University of California late yesterday announced that it will admit students who qualify academically but whose schools failed to fill out the paperwork for the ELC ("Eligibility in a Local Context") admissions program, which guarantees admission to UC for the top 4% of each graduating class. The ACLU of Southern California filed suit in California State Superior Court on December 20, 2000, challenging the University's violation of the students' due process rights.

"Just in time for Christmas, the University checked its list twice and took back the lumps of coal it left in the stockings of high-achieving students whose schools failed to do the paperwork for the ELC program," said Mark Rosenbaum, Legal Director of the ACLU of Southern California. "These students deserve admission without question. They earned it. The University's decision yesterday will change the lives of thousands of students. It's the right decision, and we're very pleased to see the students' interests placed ahead of everything else."

"We're delighted by the University's announcement, and we commend the University of California for acting so quickly in the best interests of deserving students," said Rocio Cordoba, staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California. "We look forward to learning the details of the University's proposal to remedy the problems in its ELC program. We are very pleased that the Regents recognized that these were deserving students who had been unfairly punished by an admissions policy that did not function properly, but we hope that the University will take this one step further and institute a system which does not fail in one of six schools in California next year. In any case, no student should ever again be put in the position of having qualified academically but being disqualified through someone else's omission."

"Before we decide whether this fully satisfies the requirements of fairness, however," said Cordoba, "we will need to evaluate the details of the University's response."

Students and attorneys can be reached on Saturday, December 23, by leaving a message for Christopher Calhoun at 213/977-5252; he will be checking messages and will reply with contact numbers for interested reporters.

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