With the state’s budget crisis deepening, the University of California Board of Regents curtailed freshmen enrollment and froze the salaries of senior leadership yesterday.

Freshmen enrollment at UC Davis, Irvine, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara will be cut by 2,300 students at the start of the 2009-10 academic year. In addition, the university will suspend the salaries of the top 285 administrators and will place tight restrictions on the pay of senior level executives.

In his opening statement to the board, UC President Mark G. Yudof said the university was left with no other choice.

“There is no free lunch here,” Yudof said. “We have to cut.”

According to the UC Office of the President, the UC already over-enrolls 11,000 students that it receives no state funding for, costing the university an estimated $121.8 million per year. The university projects the newly implemented enrollment cap will save about $20 million.

UC Student Regent-designate Jesse Bernal, who attended the teleconference from the Chancellor’s Conference Room at UCSB, said he reluctantly supported the move to curb freshmen enrollment.

“The enrollment curtailment issue is something we have been talking about for a long time, and the problem is the negative impact on diversity,” Bernal said. “It’s a struggle to balance quality and access. The issue being, do we protect quality for current students at the risk of excluding potential students? This is not something any of the Regents want to do, but we are being forced to by the legislature due to the lack of funding. We would love to take as many students as possible, but we just cannot do that.”

In response to concerns that the enrollment cap will deny access to disadvantaged students, Yudof noted the proposal permits enrollment from California community colleges to increase by 500 students. According to Yudof, this continued commitment to accepting transfer students will ensure socio-economic diversity on UC campuses.

Meanwhile, during the public comment period of the teleconference, UCSB service worker Bob Pinto pleaded for the Regents to put an end to what he deemed poverty wages for UC laborers.