UC Berkeley ensures Chancellor can escape student protesters
- The University of California, Berkeley has constructed an emergency escape door for its embattled chancellor in case of potential security threats, such as student protests.
- The new door was requested following a student protest in 2015 that culminated with the occupation of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks' office.
- Student protesters also visited Dirks' residence, which is now protected by a $700,000 fence.
The University of California, Berkeley has constructed an emergency escape door for its embattled chancellor in case of potential security threats, such as student protests.
The Daily Californian initially reported that the school had completed work on a $9,000 emergency exit in the office of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks over the weekend, dubbing it an “escape hatch” and asserting that construction of the door was requested about a year ago by Dirks’ staff in response to a student protest that obtrusively made its way through his office in April 2015.
Several more protests have taken place on campus since then, as Dirks struggles to manage criticism about his handling of a set of sexual harassment cases as well as accusations that he abused public funds for travel and the personal use of a campus fitness trainer.
Since the installment of the door, Dirks has faced harsh criticism from the student body, climaxing with an op-ed from The Californian’s editorial board, which criticized Dirks for literally closing the door on students.
“We acknowledge the chancellor’s right to safety and security, but we fear that many of these ‘safety’ measures are coming at the expense of accessibility to students and faculty,” the senior editorial board opined. “When students have something to say, administration should open the door, not create new closed ones.”
University spokesman Dan Mogulof, however, denied that Dirks had anything to do with the decision and harshly criticized the description of it is an “escape hatch,” telling The Guardian that such terminology is “the concoction of a 19-year-old headline writer.”
Yet Mogulof did not deny that the door was built in response to student protests, confirming with that it was installed for “security concerns,” including the possibility of future student sit-ins.
Notably, during the same 2015 protest that prompted the door’s installation, students also marched to Dirks’ nearby residence, which has since been surrounded by a $700,000 fence.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski