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UC erects fence around Berkeley residence of UC president

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The construction of the fence comes after several protests at the Berkeley residence.


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Senior staff

MARCH 08, 2023

After protests brought demonstrators to the Berkeley residence of UC President Michael Drake, the UC system is constructing a fence around the home.

The fence is meant to provide additional security for the residence, according to an email from UC press secretary Roqua Montez. The construction of the fence started in late December 2022 and is slated to end four months later in April 2023 if weather permits, Montez added.

The UC system used $6.5 million of a private donation fund to purchase the home in 2022. Thereafter, the home was to serve as a venue for university events and as the official living quarters of the UC president.

Since its purchase, a number of protests and demonstrations have occurred outside the home.

On Nov. 18, a rally of 3,500 people at the Campanile morphed into a march from campus, south on College Avenue, east on Russell Street and around the UC president’s residence, according to Erik Hagström, communications chair of the UC Berkeley chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, or Cal YDSA, and a campus senior.

On Dec. 7, demonstrators picketed outside the president’s home during the academic worker strike, chanting that UC Berkeley classes and research are “union-made.” About 40 people attended the demonstration, including Hagstrom — who said they were outside the home from roughly 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

A few doors down from the UC president’s residence, a neighboring house is seeing its own construction project. Propped on a window boarded up by a wooden plank, a sign on the home reads, “ATTENTION / This house does not belong to the president of UC Berkeley / Please do not disturb.”

Back in 2016, UC Berkeley completed a fence around the residence of then-UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks, situated on the north side of campus. The fence — whose $699,000 construction cost belied its original $270,000 budget — was designed to ward off incursions on the home, which had previously included throwing burning torches, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, and hopping the gate.

The fence was slated to save $360,000 every year in security personnel, said Mogulof in a 2016 Daily Californian article. But its construction was met with criticism; many students saw it as an attempt to ignore the demands of activists and protestors.

Montez was unable to comment on the cost or financial impact of the fence around the UC president’s residence, citing security concerns, and did not clarify a funding source. Montez added that the fence was “long-planned,” but did not specify any events which culminated in its construction.

“Because this is a matter of security, there are related sensitivities that require our utmost discretion,” Montez said.

The construction of the fence around the UC president’s residence has, however, stoked concerns among student activists similar to those from 2016.

Aside from being a physical barrier, Hagstrom believes the fence acts as a “symbolic barrier.”

“It also serves as a more important symbolic barrier about the UC admin pushing students away from it, keeping itself away from students, going further and further into the cave of donor interests and isolating itself from the voice of students, from the voice of activists,” Hagstrom said.

Anthony Migliacci, co-chair of Cal YDSA, criticized the construction of the fence as well, given recent plans to gut campus library services.

On Feb. 23, UC Berkeley announced plans to merge the Anthropology, Mathematics Statistics and Physics-Astronomy libraries into other libraries, which resulted in the overnight occupation of the Anthropology Library.

“But money is no object for them when they want a fence or security or whatever they need to separate themselves from us,” Migliacci alleged.

Montez maintained the fence should bolster security, upholding the UC system’s responsibility to protect persons and property.

“At the UC, safety is a top priority and, as such, we take very seriously our responsibility to extend protections to persons and property across our valued community,” Montez said.

Contact Cameron Fozi at  or on Twitter


MARCH 08, 2023