Construction on fence around chancellor’s campus residence underway

Kore Chan/Senior Staff

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At the request of UCPD, campus administration is constructing a fence around the chancellor’s campus home, known officially as the University House, in order to reduce the number of officers posted at the residence.

UCPD advised campus administration that a fence would be the most effective way to secure the house, which is adjacent to Haviland Hall on University House Way. Implementing the fence would allow UCPD to reduce its current number of around-the-clock security personnel, said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

The residence — completed in 1911 for former UC president Benjamin Ide Wheeler and designed by late San Francisco architect Albert Pissis — is listed in the federal National Register of Historic Places, a compilation of nationally recognized preserved historic sites. Because of the building’s historic significance, certain limits are placed on any intended structural modifications.

Construction on the black chain-link fence, which began last week, will not interfere with the building’s exterior or its structural integrity, Mogulof said. The fence will extend along the perimeter of the building as well as part of University House Way.

The chancellor’s residence currently has an around-the-clock security detail that monitors the house and grounds, according to UCPD spokesperson Lt. Marc DeCoulode.

“There have been instances of unauthorized access (to the building),” DeCoulode said. “During events, some people have either attempted to or succeeded in gaining entry and disrupted the chancellor and his family during time that is not appropriate.”

Additionally, a series of late-night incidents in which individuals attempted to gain access to the home have increased the need for security, according to Mogulof.

DeCoulode said the number of posted officers would be “substantially reduced” after construction of the fence is completed, but until then, UCPD will not know exactly how much security detail will be reduced.

Interactions between the chancellor and community members have been interceded by police in the past. In August 2013, members of the University Professional and Technical Employees, a union of UC communications workers, were surprised when they invited Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to an event and were instead met by three police officers, according to Tanya Smith, former president of UPTE’s Berkeley chapter.

“We were taken aback when the police officers arrived,” Smith said. “It’s very distressing to be a longtime employee and invite a chancellor and have police officers sent instead.”

Smith said that several attempts were made by campus unions to speak with Dirks but that they were met with a “closed door.”

“I think Dirks has been building fences around himself since he’s gotten (to UC Berkeley),” Smith said. “Building this fence is just a physical manifestation of that.”

DeCoulode said that the building is, above all, a private residence and that building the fence would ensure the safety of the chancellor and his family.

Construction on the fence should be completed before the end of the month, according to Mogulof.

Staff writer Sonja Hutson contributed to this report.

Adrienne Shih is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @adrienneshih.

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  • K. Martinez

    The fence is unnecessary, sends a terrible message, and is overpriced. 1. It won’t provide much additional protection. Cutting a fence or hopping over is easy. 2. It sends the message “I’m afraid of the community.” 3. A few people sneak into some party or event, and suddenly he needs a fence. 4. A light fixture was broken, and a few pots. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just replace the pots? 4. What next, a full time body guard? His house is on campus. If he doesn’t want to live there, maybe a gated community in Piedmont would be more his style. 6. This type of response just builds fear and mistrust, and makes the campus more segregated. Us vs them. Administration vs. students. 7. He should have thought this one through a little better.

  • Becky Newsom

    Mr. Dirks continues the tradition of the Chancellor being afraid of the students. Will on-campus police patrols cease? Does the building not have a security alarm? Chain-link? UC searches far and wide for employees of this calibre. Maybe it’s time to simplify the hiring process and find someone comfortable with the neighborhood.

  • markmasonphd

    Shocking. I am stunned. Let There Be Darkness. We are now entering the Dark Ages V.2. This is outrageous. I was awarded a doctorate from UCB. Since leaving the university, I cannot recommend it to anyone. It’s no longer an institution of learning and inquiry. It’s now a subsidiary of corporate America with the Chancellor hiding behind a fence. When do the police start checking IDs? When does the armed-guard checkpoint get constructed? I gave a lecture at a university in the Philippines in 2009. When I arrived at the university, it was surrounded by razor-wire fencing with an armed-guard checkpoint. We all know why this is so. We all know why the Chancellor at UC Berkeley wants to hide. The rich are stealing everything in the public domain. The rich get richer and the poor get fencing, barbed-wire, checkpoints, prisons, and cops. KEEP OUT, the sign says at the public university. If the Chancellor lives in fear, why? Who is asking why? The fence represents the fears of the rich protecting their ill-gotten privileges from the angry poor. Why do you think the poor are angry? The USA is now a fascist state, but the Chancellor will cash his paycheck and remain silent about the darkness descending upon the nation.

    • CalAlum99

      Or, you know, stop having union reps bother people at their residences, and take a cost-conscious step with a fence vs. paying police to guard 24/7. It is a safety issue, as there have been break-ins in the past, and quite simply, the guy might just not want to be disturbed when having dinner with his family.

      Perhaps the POTUS should dust off that old Kennedy convertible and start driving around in that vs. his armored vehicle, to connect with the people better.


      • K. Martinez

        Give me 400K and me and my friends will promise not to visit during dinner time. What is he afraid of? What if the kids, god forbid, decorated the trees with toilet paper, or threw eggs at the window. I think an armored vehicle would send a strong message.

  • Curtis Jones

    Don’t forget, a previous chancellor was attacked there by a mental case that an OPD officer had to shoot in self defense!

  • So Kali

    YES! Put Janet in prison where she belongs and let her TSA guard her against terrorists!