UC Berkeley considers public access ban in compliance with CA COVID-19 mandate

Sproul Hall
Zainab Ali/File
According to the UC Berkeley proposal concerning restricting access to campus, students complying with COVID-19 regulations, approved campus staff, people with prescheduled appointments and others would still be permitted on campus.

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UC Berkeley is considering temporarily banning the general public’s access to indoor and outdoor campus spaces in accordance with a state mandate.

The California Department of Public Health issued recommendations Aug. 7 on how to resume in-person instruction on public college campuses. UC Berkeley has since drafted a policy proposal that, if approved, would result in the closure of campus grounds to the general public to prevent further COVID-19 spread.

Despite UC Berkeley being a public campus, the policy would enable appointed campus employees to supervise visitors’ presence on campus, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

“The intention of this temporary closure policy is not to ‘lockdown the campus,’” Gilmore said in an email. “We seek to comply with the state mandate.”

According to the proposal, campus property would be open to students complying with COVID-19 regulations, approved campus staff, people with prescheduled appointments and others.

The appointed staff would not include UCPD, according to ASUC President Victoria Vera, who said this was an intentional decision because of the “contentious relationship” between the campus community and the police department.

“If we want to see a day where we’ll all be back on campus, we need to actively be culture carriers of what we want to see on campus at this time,” Vera said.

Vera added that the lack of clarity surrounding the implementation of the proposed policy has led to students voicing concerns about how the closure would impact student fees and other costs of attendance.

As UC Berkeley has decided against reducing tuition for this semester, Vera said campus has a responsibility to “demystify” student fees and explain where the money is going.

“The main point of this policy is to ensure that folks are following COVID-19 guidelines,” Vera said. “But it’s really hard, especially when you feel like those guidelines are restricting … spaces that are our spaces.”

Berkeley resident Alfred Twu echoed this sentiment, identifying the campus’s central location within Berkeley as one of its most unique qualities.

Twu added that many community members use the campus as a park or a way to get from one side of Berkeley to the other.

“It’s been pretty clear over the last few months that outdoor activities are not the main risk,” Twu said. “Any time the state or federal government cracks down on outdoor activities, it hurts their credibility when it comes to indoor activities, where there is a larger hazard.”

Once campus has received input from Berkeley leaders, the proposal will be submitted to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ for approval, according to Gilmore.

She added that if approved, the policy would be implemented within the next two weeks.

Contact Olivia Moore and Maria Young at [email protected].