UC Berkeley to Build Security Fence Around Chancellor’s Residence


After a series of security breaches, UC Berkeley is building a fence around the chancellor’s on-campus residence.

The university’s chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, lives in a 104-year-old stone mansion in the middle of campus, known officially as the University House. Twice this year people have made it into events at the house to which they were not invited, and protest activity has gone on late at night that officials say are dangerous.

According to Lt. Marc DeCoulode, a spokesperson for the university’s police department:

There have been instances of unauthorized access. During events, some people have either attempted to or succeeded in gaining entry and disrupted the chancellor and his family during time that is not appropriate.

The totality of the circumstances over the year showed the facility needed a better perimeter around it.

These incidents are not the only security problems that have occurred at the residence.

In 1992, an activist was killed after breaking in with a machete. Rosebud Abigail Denovo, 20, was shot three times by police. Previously, she had been found with explosive devices, a list of targets that included multiple UC officials, a campus map, and a diary including threats directed at the chancellor. The chancellor at the time was Chang-Lin Tien, writes Jane Gross of the New York Times, who was unharmed.

In 2009 protesters smashed windows and threw torches at the building. They were protesting fee hikes and budget cuts, according to Henry K. Lee of SF Gare. The day before, 66 people had been arrested at Wheeler Hall for similar protests. Student arrests included Zachary Brown, 21, and Angela Miller, 20, on charges of rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, vandalism, and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.

Six who weren’t students were arrested as well. The chancellor at the time was Robert Birgeneau, who said:

These are criminals, not activists. The attack at our home was extraordinarily frightening and violent. My wife and I genuinely feared for our lives.

The fence will be 30-40 feet from the house and cost $400,000, writes Alexei Koseff of the Sacramento Bee. Work on the chain-link fence is already underway.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof, said:

Obviously, there were a couple of incidents that were disturbing, and … he does have a family. There’s no other (UC) chancellor who lives smack-dab in the middle of campus.

The house was built in 1911 for former UC President Benjamin Ide Wheeler and was designed by local architect Albert Pissis.

When the fence is completed, the UCPD’s security detail will be reduced, writes Adrienne Shih of the Daily Californian.