BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — The University of California at Berkeley is putting up a fence around Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ on campus house. While school officials are calling the fence a security measure, the project is under fire from faculty members and students.
Grad student James Mason says the fence closes a public pathway that many people rely on to get to class.READ MORE: BART Service Nears Pre-Pandemic Level Monday as Hours Expand
“It’s the easiest way back and forth. Anything else involves going down to the little pathway,” Mason told KPIX 5.
Cal administrators said it’s a small inconvenience to secure Dirks’ campus home. Dirks and previous chancellors have been repeated targets of protestors upset with tuition hikes.
“Ten, 11, 12 o’clock at night, people would go to the residence, pound on the door,” said Lt. Marc DeCoulode of UC Berkeley police.
In 2009, campus police said a large group of protestors threw flower pots and even a lit torch at the chancellor’s house. Ever since, police have guarded the mansion around the clock.READ MORE: 4 Die in Helicopter Crash in Colusa County North of Sacramento
“The activists are more emboldened. They’re taking more drastic steps,” DeCoulode said.
But many students said the fence sends the wrong message.
“The symbolicness of the fence and what it means putting it up, it’s making a separation between the students and the chancellor,” said Cheyenne Millard, a sophomore.
Berkeley alum and protest organizer Bianca Huntley-Ortega said the fence is a “Symbol that he’s not fighting for the interest of the students.”MORE NEWS: San Francisco Digital Payment Company Square to Buy Afterpay in $29 Billion Deal
Mason says he’s more worried about closing off this public road. “For my purpose, they can keep the symbolism,” Mason said. “I know the chancellor doesn’t listen. Do public officials ever listen?”