University House remains uninhabited, continues to be used for events

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Since former chancellor Nicholas Dirks left the office in July, University House has had no permanent residents but has been the site of many parties and events.

The house is being utilized by Chancellor Carol Christ to host special events and guests, such as a welcome dinner for new faculty and the Fiat Lux Scholars reception, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

Christ chose not to reside in the building because she has her own home in Berkeley close to campus.

Although there are currently no permanent inhabitants in the mansion, maintenance costs for the house and grounds — which include a large garden — are projected to be $250,000 for the current fiscal year.

While the University House does not generate any revenue for the campus, there are some cost savings, according to Mogulof, because other venues would require rental of space and equipment such as chairs, tables and china.

Campus freshman Henry Davis said he respects the chancellor’s decision to live where she wants but that residing in the home would show her allegiance to the campus. As a comparison, he said if President Donald Trump did not live in the White House, it would be fair to question his allegiance to the country.

The mansion — and its inhabitants — was last in the spotlight in spring 2016, when Dirks completed a $700,000 fence for security reasons after attacks and protests on the home. In November 2015, for example, student activists protesting for workers’ rights marched to the house and vandalized the property.

Davis said he believes that the fence installation was justified, but he also thought it meant that the chancellor could not use security concerns as a reason to not live in the home.

“I respect her decision — to each their own,” Davis said. “But I think the chancellor’s house is a symbol of her commitment to the university. … Living in the chancellor’s house shows that she is invested in the community and campus.”

Contact Jack Austin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @JackAustinDC.