Barraged by a constant stream of protests and student occupations, administrators at the University of California, Berkeley have hit upon a very direct solution: build an escape door.
According to The Daily Californian, Berkeley administrators spent a handsome $9,000 to install a new door near the office of school chancellor Nicholas Dirks. The initial request for the door was made over a year ago, after an April, 2015, protest where students stormed California Hall to protest the construction of a new campus in Richmond, Calif. Students occupied the area outside Dirks’s office and made a commotion until several of them were arrested by university police.
The new door is apparently intended to help the chancellor escape more easily from similar protests in the future, without having to force his way past a crowd of demonstrators. The $9,000 was allocated from the school’s safety fund, and the decision to build it was apparently made without the chancellor’s personal knowledge.
The door has been denounced by at least one member of Berkeley’s student government.
“The chancellor seems elitist and out of touch and inaccessible to the students,” Associated Students of University of California senator-elect Chris Yamas told The Daily Californian. Yamas argued that disruptive protests are a traditional way for students to voice their opinions and that by building the door, Dirks was effectively trying to escape accountability.
The staff of The Daily Californian agree, as they wrote their own editorial Tuesday denouncing the door and what it represents.
“Occasional disruption of administrators’ daily lives is an important tool for students to ensure their voices are heard,” the paper said. “When leaders are too afraid to engage, their ability to lead is significantly diminished. If these trends continue, the chasm between students and administration will become irreparable.”
Though substantial, the figure spent on the door pales in comparison to the whopping $700,000 the school spent building a fence around the chancellor’s home earlier this year. The fence was built in order to curb persistent trespassing and vandalism at the house.
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