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Former UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks Discusses His Rocky Tenure

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — Former University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks is blunt about his rocky four year stint.

“My term at Berkeley probably saw more major crises of one kind or another than anybody since maybe the 1960s,” Dirks said.

On Monday night, Dirks spoke at the University of Santa Clara about the battle over free speech at Berkeley and the scheduled speech by Milo Yiannopoulos that started it all.

“When the Black Bloc walked up Bancroft Avenue and then turned into Sproul Plaza, we saw a level of violence on campus that we haven’t seen since perhaps Peoples Park in 1969,” Dirks said.

“When we got the tweet on the morning of February 2nd, when I woke up and saw that the president had tweeted against Berkeley, threatening us with the cancellation of all federal funds, that raised the stakes in a way that once again was unprecedented,” Dirks said.

But that wasn’t the only scandal that rocked Dirks’ administration.

There was a major lack of funding that came as a surprise to him and impacted his ability to implement some changes.

Then there were high profile sexual harassment claims against a dean and other faculty.

And there was certainly some sharp criticism of the administration’s overall handling of the dean who came under fire.

We asked him, looking back, is there anything he would have changed?

Dirks said, “What we did when we started seeing event after event, that faculty were both engaged in sexual harassment in the case of the dean…was to completely rehaul all of the procedures we have about sexual harassment on campus.”

Dirks said, “I insisted that every case come to me as soon as the charge was made… I think the victims and the survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault were not being given anywhere near the kind of protection under our university regulations that they deserve. So we did change that immediately.”

Changes he is still proud of today.

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