Dirks, faculty will review businesses’ access to campus space after Fox Sports disruption

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Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate will review policies governing how campus space is used by commercial enterprises after faculty discontent over the disruption of campus facilities during the Sept. 14 Ohio State football game.

The departments housed in Kroeber Hall decided to close the building the day of the game due to concerns over vandalism and public entry stemming from Fox TV’s presence on nearby Kroeber Plaza. The closure rendered many students unable to access the library or studios located in Kroeber Hall.

The event prompted the UC Berkeley Faculty Association to send an open letter to the Academic Senate regarding the role of intercollegiate athletics on campus. In the letter, the faculty association condemned “the disruption of the university’s academic mission by the occupation of Kroeber Plaza by Fox Sports.”

Students, faculty and staff in the anthropology and art practice departments were inconvenienced by the event, said Tamar Beja, a printmaking mechanician in the department of art practice. Many were not notified of Kroeber Hall’s closure until late afternoon the day before the event, which did not give staff enough time to alert students to the lack of studio access over the weekend, she said.

Event Services is responsible for booking spaces for student, campus and community events on university grounds. It could be not be reached for comment about this incident.

Sandy Barbour, UC Berkeley’s athletics director, said approval for the Fox TV event went through proper channels. Cal Athletics worked with Event Services and UCPD to determine the best place for this activity, she said.

“In an ideal world, campus Event Services would have understood the impact this would have on the buildings that bordered Kroeber Plaza,” said Hilary Schiraldi, interim head of the Anthropology Library.

Elizabeth Deakin, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, said that moving forward, Dirks and the Academic Senate are committed to ensuring  there is meaningful consultation and engagement with potentially affected students, faculty and staff before approval is granted for this sort of event.

In an email to Deakin, Dirks said no amount of corporate funding could persuade him to interfere with academic activities on campus.

Some events may be hosted on Kroeber Plaza due to construction on Lower Sproul, the location where events such as these are often held, Deakin said.

According to Barbour, the Fox TV event was not specifically coordinated by UC Berkeley’s athletics department but rather was part of a larger contract between the university and a number of commercial entities.

Fox TV has a partnership with schools in the Pac-12 conference, of which some UC schools are members. The agreement stipulates schools will welcome partner media entities to their campuses on gamedays, Barbour said.

“There are revenues derived from the partnerships that help fund our athletic endeavors,” Barbour said, adding that this is the first time Fox TV has been at UC Berkeley. “Overall, I would love for athletics to be a vehicle by which we can showcase the excellence of campus. Having our games televised is a way to do that.”

Christine Tyler covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected].