More than 100 protesters gathered Friday evening outside the vacant chancellor’s residence, officially named University House, demanding administrative support for homeless students while blasting Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright” on speakers.
Organized by the Homeless Student Union and the ASUC Housing Commission, the event was scheduled to run Friday through Sunday, with students even planning to sleep overnight at the mansion. In July 2017, Chancellor Carol Christ turned down the opportunity to live in the chancellor’s mansion because she already owned a property in the city of Berkeley.
The “party” was complete with music, tents and marijuana. The crowd briefly left University House to march once around Memorial Glade in order to gain the attention of students celebrating 4/20, bringing with them loud speakers and banners reading “Occupy the Mansion” and “420 with Carol.”
The Homeless Student Union published an open letter to Christ on March 22 with a series of demands — one was that the currently empty University House be used as affordable housing for homeless students or students with insecure housing.
“The funds, time, and regulatory approval that would be needed to convert a house built for a far different purpose into a residence that could hold all but a handful of students make it an expensive, unrealistic option that would do little to address the underlying problem,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof in an email.
Event organizers also set up tents in front of University House for protesters who wished to stay overnight. Incoming chair of the ASUC Housing Commission Helen Veazey said the tents were set up so students can “occupy” and create a “juxtaposition with the mansion.”
“We’re drawing attention to the fact that there are 3,000 homeless students, and at the same time, the chancellor has three acres of a mansion,” Veazey said.
Campus junior Zan Moore, who was at the protest, echoed this sentiment, saying it is “absurd” that the University House is empty while students are homeless.
UCPD officers were present Friday on the mansion’s front lawn and balcony overlooking the scene.
The University House is currently used to host donor events, faculty dinners, receptions and fireside chats, according to Mogulof.
The Homeless Student Union also arranged a demonstration at the center of Sproul Plaza on Saturday, which was Cal Day. Tents were set up on the brick tile area of Sproul Plaza, with signs taped to the tents reading “10% of Cal students experience homelessness” and “How do you know it won’t be you?”
“We spend so much on sports, administration,” said campus junior Tate Barend. “How can we be the best if we don’t give housing?”
Contact Sakura Cannestra, Francesca Munsayac and Jarrett Visher at [email protected].