Campus builds escape hatch for Dirks’ office in California Hall

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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Update 8/01/16: This story has been updated to reflect an interview with ASUC Senator-elect Chris Yamas

Last weekend, an emergency exit was built near Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ office as a security measure against potential protesters.

The door, which cost $9,000, is located outside a short hallway between his conference room and his office in California Hall.

Campus spokesperson Claire Holmes said in an email that the exit in California Hall was installed as a security measure to “provide egress to leave the building.”

Construction of the door was requested about a year ago in response to a protest in April 2015 when protesters stormed the chancellor’s suite.

During the protest, students staged a sit-in outside Dirks’ office where they banged on desks and chanted loudly. They were eventually escorted out of the building, some in handcuffs, by UCPD officers.

Later that day, protesters marched from Sproul Hall to the area in front of University House, the chancellor’s residence.

ASUC Senator-elect Chris Yamas said there have been many protests on campus throughout the tenure of several different chancellors, but no instances when a chancellor was physically harmed.

“There has to be other ways to handle student concerns and protests than simply building ways to avoid them,” Yamas said. “The chancellor seems elitist and out of touch and inaccessible to the students.”

The funding for the exit was approved by the UC Office of the President under Be Smart About Safety — a UC-wide pool of money that provides funding for risk prevention.

According to Holmes, the door was built over the weekend to be less disruptive to people working inside California Hall. She said that all workers were provided overtime pay.

Holmes added that the building manager had spoken to the then-acting campus fire marshal who gave a “verbal OK” to construct the exit and planned on seeking approval and making amendments as needed. Current campus fire marshal Curt Itson, however, said he was unaware of any project inside California Hall.

This news comes after recent developments showed the campus spent nearly $700,000 to build a fence around University House. The fence was built because of an increase in the number of incidents of vandalism and trespassing.

Yamas said these constructions often have the opposite effect from their intended purpose, however, by increasing community backlash against Dirks and instigating more intense protests, thus putting the chancellor in more danger.

He added that protests have long been a part of campus tradition and serve as a way for students to have their voices heard and hold the campus administration accountable.

Haruka Senju is an assistant news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @haruka_senju.

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  • Nate Lever

    This article failed to mention that the hatch was requested specifically by the fire department to bring the building up to code. This should not have been ‘news.’

  • paxman

    The corporatization of education is criminal. Students and educators suffer when corporate attitudes and tactics are brought into our educational institutions.

  • profab

    two words: jet pack

  • Jim

    This escape door reminds me of the postern that served as an escape portal from medieval castles that were under siege. With the security fence that’s been erected, the only thing lacking is a piranha-stocked moat around the administration building.

  • Dessic

    Sounds like a reasonable solution. The right to free speech does not confer a right to force your intended audience to listen.

  • Nunya Beeswax

    Hilarious. Other improvements being considered : murder holes, a moat, ramparts, a barbican.

  • Mike

    I think King Dirks definitely deserves a secure exit from his office. He should not have to face the petty complaints from his servants. !

  • still trying

    Does it take him to the Bat Cave?

  • JL Villanueva

    Next time they should make a rooftop landing on California Hall, then purchase a helicopter (the most expensive one because screw students’ money), so each time there’s a protest going on, he can just go straight to any of his mansions without dealing with people or traffic.

  • Curtis Jones

    Eat your bosses!

  • Hank Chapot

    Ridiculous. My union AFSCME has done many actions at California Hall through three or four Chancellors. Most of them depart with police escorts, the brave ones address the crowd. What is silly is that it won’t be hard to find the hidey-hole outlet and to station a few picketers there to talk to Dirks as he runs away.

    Add this to his wife’s demand for a $700,000 fence and you can see how much money these itinerant, frightened managers cost the University system for their usually less than five year tenure.

    • J Flores

      The fence that was recommended by police as a cost cutting measure? Saving over 350k per year by not having guards 24hr per day? Seems like a great idea. Not to mention it was first brought up before Dirks became Chancellor.

      • still trying

        Having to have police escorts and body guards for a college Chancellors is ridiculous and a total waste of money. Look at Mayor Bates, he has done more to ruin Berkeley than any Mayor during the past 50 years. Yet, he has not requested police protection. Dirks is an idiot and a waste. Some day Cal alumni will wake up and smell the fleecing of your donations.

  • Concerned Bear

    This is the biggest joke in the world. Dirks is such a wuss. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of, let alone met, a bigger coward.

    • Dan Spitzer

      Given the property destruction and violence seen in both the Occupy and BLM protests over the past few years, it’s perfectly understandable that the Chancellor and his wife feel in need of protection. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the lunatic fringe on the left has created such a climate to make such construction reasonable and necessary…

      • Concerned Bear

        I’m guessing you are also a weak cuck who can’t protect himself.

  • BillStewart2012

    Only $9K? Pretty cheap for UC construction, and probably the office needed another fire exit anyway.

    • CalAlum99

      No kidding, get this crew on the UCPath project.

  • Dan Spitzer

    That the university felt it necessary to construct this security measure for its chancellor underscores how out of control some of the protesters have become…

    • Hank Chapot

      You are full of it. There have been one or two incidents, but most of the protests I’ve witnessed and been involved in (for the past 15 years including occupy) have been strident and spirited, but one or two pieces of broken glass does not lead to “out of control.’And Dan, I thought you graduated decades ago, why don’t you go out and argue in in the real world?

      • Dan Spitzer

        Both the Occupy and BLM protests have turned to property destruction and violence both on UC campuses and in Oakland and Berkeley. And then there was violence vs a speaker at a Cal Performances colloquium.

        Mr. Chapot, because I graduated some time ago, I live in the real world as opposed to someone like you who believes he has a sense of what is happening from the gilded halls of rhetoric and AFSME idiocies…

      • elrod

        Did you forget the 1992 machete wielding, home invasion incident during Chancellor Tien’s time of service?

        • still trying

          Once in 15 years. We should ban all cars on roads because someone might get run over. Come on. This is a waste of money-elrod. No other Chancellor has an escape hatch to a bat cave. In more than 30 years there has only been two incidents of break ins at the Chancellor’s home. Once, no one was there. “Did you forget the 1992 machete wielding, home invasion.” House was empty. But in that same period of time, 15 students died at frats related to drinking and dozens of students raped. Yet nothing is done and these deaths are ignored. You people at Cal are all screwed up. Your priorities are out of wack with reality. No wonder our country is so screwed up. Look at Janet Yellen, a UC professor, who believes the economy is in full swing and wants to raise rates. Can you say out of touch with reality and her actions will cause another recession. By raising interest rates, the dollar will increase in value causing manufacturing and exports to decline. We will be left with a service oriented economy with college degrees required to make coffee at Starbucks.

    • Pixilicious

      This story says much more about how troubling Dirks’ employment has become than the character of the protests.

    • Becky Newsom

      Dan “Squirrels” Mogulof: I see you’ve deleted your last string of comments and started a new line for your UC PR. Still peddling the fear card like you did with the fence? Then you were citing 25 incidents with police – of which neither the Daily Cal nor the police could confirm. How embarrassing that the Daily Cal, who originally supported the fence, came out against it after seeing the price tag. Fool me once…

  • build a fence for the chancellor but none for the southern border? shameful!

    • ShadrachSmith

      They could move Hillary’s fence from Philly.

      • they should borrow some of her white noise machines to drown out the weekly protests in front of sproul hall too