A College Admits a Big Mistake. Imagine That.
据Los Angeles Times提供的数据，今年加州大学欧文分校发了31,103封offer，大概有7,100个小伙伴接受了offer，这个数字比U.C. Irvine预期的新生人数6,250多了850人，超出人数怎么办？难道撤销offer的事儿和这个有关？
The people who run the University of California, Irvine, found themselves with a problem this spring. More high school students than expected said yes to Irvine's offer of admission — about 800 more. The campus didn't have room for so many freshmen, and Irvine needed to do something.
今年春天，加州大学欧文分校(University of California, Irvine)的管理者们发现了一个问题。接受了学校录取通知的高中毕业生比预期中多了800多人。校园无法容纳这么多新生，欧文分校需要采取一些措施。
What followed was a fascinating case study in human behavior and the management of a large organization. The story took a new turn, for the better, on Wednesday, and it still isn't over.
The solution that the college's leaders initially chose was pretty awful. They rescinded the acceptances of almost 500 students, and it's now too late for them to enroll in any other four-year college this fall. "I couldn't stop crying," Ashley Gonzalez, an 18-year-old, told The Los Angeles Times. No one in her family had previously gone to college.
rescind: to make a law, agreement, order, or decision no longer have any (legal) power 废除；取消；撤销
The policy of charging air travellers for vegetarian meals proved unpopular and has already beenrescinded.
I became interested in the story partly because I've lavished praise on Irvine in the past. It has ranked
No.1 for the past two years in The Times's College Access Index, which evaluates about 170 top colleges based on economic diversity and the cost of attendance. Irvine is an impressive place, and I wanted to figure out how its leaders could have bungled the situation so badly.
lavish: If you lavish money, affection, or praise on someone or something, you spend a lot of money on them or give them a lot of affection or praise.滥花；浪费；非常（或过分）慷慨地给予
Prince Sadruddin lavished praise on Britain's contributions to world diplomacy...
bungle: to do something wrong, in a careless or stupid way 弄糟；（笨手笨脚地）把…搞砸
Two prisoners bungled an escape bid after running either side of a lamp-post while handcuffed.
So I spent some time talking with them this week. I came away thinking it was a classic case ofwell-meaning people making a series of small mistakes that added up to a big mistake — and then persuading themselves that they hadn't messed up. I had already written a draft of a column harshly critical of the university and was planning to publish it this morning. (If you want a flavor of that criticism, read this tough Los Angeles Times editorial from Wednesday morning.)
Then something remarkable happened.
After days of defending their actions, Irvine's leaders admitted on Wednesday that they had made a mistake. They have reinstated most of the rescinded acceptances. Howard Gillman, Irvine's chancellor, publicly apologized.
reinstate: to give someone back their previous job or position, or to cause something to exist again 使重返岗位，使恢复原职；把…放回原处；使恢复原状
The Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
I still have some questions and concerns about the new policy, and I hope Irvine's critics keep monitoring the situation. But the change is a big improvement. And it's an all-too-rare instance of people in power being willing to change their minds — to decide that the embarrassment of changing course is better than doubling down on a mistake.
The Irvine story starts with a problem that's entirely understandable: There is no foolproof way topredict how many students will say yes to a college's admission offer. The percentage of students who respond positively is known as "yield," and it fluctuates year to year, based on the economy, the admissions practices of other colleges and the whims of teenagers.
whim: a sudden wish or idea, especially one that cannot be reasonably explained 突然的念头，冲动
We booked the trip on a whim.
"Admissions is both an art and a science," Thomas Parham, Irvine's vice chancellor for student affairs, told me. "We were surprised by the number of people who said yes."
Irvine took some small initial steps to address the situation, like creating a pilot program that persuaded about 100 freshmen not to live on campus. But its big step was to crack down on students who it said made technical mistakes in the enrollment process and to rescind 499 acceptances.
It was able to do so because the acceptance letters that all high school students receive are officially only tentative offers of admission. They are contingent on the students' graduating from high school in good standing, paying tuition and submitting various forms, among other things.
tentative: (of a plan or idea) not certain or agreed, or (of a suggestion or action) said or done in a careful but uncertain way because you do not know if you are right （计划、想法、建议、行动等）试验（性）的，试探（性）的，暂时的
I have tentative plans to take a trip to Seattle in July.
be contingent on/upon: depending on something else in the future in order to happen 视…而定的；因…而变的；取决于…的
LR's success is contingent on/upon your support.
in good standing 声誉良好的，资格完好的
In order to shrink its class size, Irvine became "more stringent" about applying these criteria, officials said. For example, students who failed to submit their final high school transcript on time — as the college said was the case with Gonzalez — had their acceptance revoked.
It was an extremely harsh punishment for a bureaucratic oversight. These students had already turned down other colleges to choose Irvine, and it was too late for them to change their minds.
Simran Chopra, an 18-year-old from Los Angeles, was admitted to both Irvine and Berkeley and chose Irvine because of a dance team, she told The Orange County Register. When she found out Irvine had rescinded its offer — again, citing a late transcript — she locked herself in a bathroom and cried.
18岁的西姆兰·乔普拉(Simran Chopra)来自洛杉矶，她告诉《橘郡纪事报》(The Orange County Regester)，自己同时获得了欧文和伯克利分校的录取通知，最后因为欧文分校的舞蹈队而选择了它。当她发现欧文取消了自己的入学申请——也是因为提交成绩单较晚——她把自己锁在浴室里哭了起来。
Irvine officials initially defending their decisions by saying that they were just enforcing an existing policy. The problem, of course, was that whatever the policy officially stated, the university was enforcing it differently this year. A late form submission that wouldn't have mattered for students last year or a couple of years ago — say, for the older sibling of a student who had her acceptance rescinded — suddenly turned a teenager's life upside down.
sibling: Your siblings are your brothers and sisters.兄弟姐妹
His siblings are mostly in their early twenties...
The students didn't create the over-enrollment mess. Irvine did. Yet the students were paying the price for it.
I could tell that Irvine's officials were never entirely comfortable with their approach. Parham used the word "heartbreaking" on Tuesday. In an email exchange the same day, Gillman wrote to me, "We made mistakes that are putting too many innocent students through a very difficult experience, and we will do all we can to make sure that never happens again."
put through: If someone puts you through an unpleasant experience, they make you experience it.使遭受
She wouldn't want to put them through the ordeal of a huge ceremony...
But they still kept defending their approach — until they didn't.
On Wednesday afternoon, Gillman announced that Irvine was reinstating the offers to almost 300 students whose acceptances had been rescinded because of a missed deadline (so long as their final high school transcripts don't show problems, such as an F). Roughly another 200 students, whose senior-year grades fell too steeply or whose transcripts contain inconsistencies, will still have to win an appeal in order to enroll.
"We are a university recognized for advancing the American Dream, not impeding it," Gillman wrote in a public letter. "This situation is rocking us to our core because it is fundamentally misaligned with our values." He added: "The students and their families have my personal, sincerest apology. We should not have treated you this way over a missed deadline."
My guess is that 200 may still be an unfairly large number of rescinded acceptances and a larger number than in past years. I hope Irvine also does right by the 200 students and avoids expelling any on technicalities to ease its space crunch. Ria Carlson, an Irvine spokeswoman, told me that the university was still figuring out how it would fit in the additional students.
I also don't want to ignore the anxiety that Irvine caused in the lives of several hundred families. That can't be undone. But whatever damage Irvine has done, it also provided its incoming students with a worthwhile lesson even before they arrive on campus.
Even adults in positions of authority — decent, well-meaning adults — make mistakes. They'rean unavoidable part of life. And it can be pretty miserable to admit you made a big one. But admitting it, and trying to fix it, is still a lot better than the alternative.