Fence Built Around UC Berkeley Chancellor's Mansion Follows ‘Uptick in Incidents'

Fence symbolizes divide between students and administrators, activists say

The University of California, Berkeley, is putting up a fence around the chancellor’s on-campus residence after his family raised security concerns.

The 104-year-old mansion in the center of campus that’s housed chancellors for years is now off limits to the public. UC Berkeley officials say Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and his family had every reason not to feel safe inside their on campus home.

“In the last year there's been a real uptick in incidents at the chancellor's private residence,” UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said. “There's been an attempted forced entry, been at least two individuals who've gained unpermitted access.”

Back in 2009, the former chancellor’s wife Mary Catherine Birgeneau shared her security concerns with NBC Bay Area after protesters armed with torches launched what she described as a mob attack on the house while she was inside. “What they did to this home is an act of terrorism,” Birgeneau said.

“We asked the police department to do a security assessment and the fence is going up on the basis of their recommendation,” Mogulof said.

The university has put up a temporary wire fence around the mansion as they work on permanent fencing, forcing students to take other routes to class, and leaving student activists steaming.

“It's pretty clear he's on one side,” student Rosella Bearden said, “and students and workers are on the other side.”

Bearden and her friends brought their concerns about unfair wages and treatment of workers to the chancellor's doorstep in April and claims they had every reason to pay a visit.

“We've tried to talk to him and tried to set up meetings for the past year, and he's never come to talk to us,” Bearden said.

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