The University of California, Berkeley has installed a new escape door for staff to use in case of another student “sit-in” demonstration.
The $9,000 door was reportedly built in between school Chancellor Nicholas Dirk’s office and his conference room, and will be used for staff to vacate the premises in case another student takeover demonstration occurs.
The campus has been home to numerous protests over the years, starting in the 60’s as part of the Free Speech Movement.
“It’s clear that administrators on this campus operate in a near-constant state of fear of its students” wrote the Daily Cal in an editorial on Monday.
“Protests on this campus are commonplace, and they frequently occur around the chancellor’s office and residence. 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.”
Chancellor Dirk, however, was reportedly unaware of the installation of a new door, with the school claiming that the new exit was the police department’s idea.
“He was not actually aware that it was being built” said UC Berkeley’s communications director Dan Mogulof to the College Fix.
“This came about in response to staff concerns after a number of occupations of that particular floor of the administration building. And our police department thought it would be beneficial just to have one extra door, which is all that it is, that will provide staff, if need be in the future, another way of getting out of the building… There was really only one way out… The police thought it would be a good idea and it was really in response to staff concerns.”
In May, a $699,000 fence was built around Chancellor Dirk’s campus residence after “disturbances and increasingly violent attacks on the house” reportedly took place. The cost was around two and a half times over the approved budget for the fence, which was originally supposed to cost around $270,000.