Whatever the UC Berkeley administration paid the Daily Cal to publish this story was definitely worth its weight in gold!
Protests Prove Costly to Campus
By Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Student protests at UC Berkeley aiming to save public higher education may lead to further cuts to campus services, administrators say.
Demonstrations have caused the campus to deplete a $211,000 “protest fund” on a heightened campus police presence, fire department responses and site cleanups. The fund is only expected to cover expenses accrued through the end of February.
Additional costs such as those incurred during the March 4 protests will be covered with central campus funds, any available reserves or through cuts to programs such as human resources, finance or police services.
The Nov. 20 Wheeler Hall Occupation alone cost the campus an estimated $50,541, including $21,530 to repair damage done to campus buildings and $29,011 to fund the police response to the approximately 2,000 students who gathered outside the building.
Chris Christofferson, assistant vice chancellor of physical plant-campus services, said he respects the right of students to protest but added that demonstrations are costing the campus “money we don’t have.”
“It costs money to clean up graffiti; it costs money to replace broken glass,” he said. “Every dime we spend on a budget that has been significantly reduced is no money to do the work we have to do. We don’t have the staff to be chasing the protesters around.”
Student organizer Zachary Miller said protesting cuts to the campus budget and staff should take precedence over concerns that demonstrations themselves are further damaging the campus’s finances.
“If we sacrifice one day of classes now to protect thousands and even millions of students (so they can) have access to public education in the future, then isn’t that a sacrifice worth making?” he asked.
But the costs to the campus encompass more than one day of classes or one day of excess spending. The Dec. 11 attack on Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s house racked up a $13,926 bill. Repairs for damage done to Durant Hall on the night of Feb. 25 will be between an estimated $50,000 and $75,000. Expenses resulting from the attack include replacing two windows of laminated glass, which costs $4,464 and buying new planters and plants, which cost $2,631.
Resources for maintenance staff-who must clean up after protests-are “very limited,” said Christine Shaff, campus director of communications for facilities services.
Campus gardener Hank Chapot said extra time needed to clean up after protests keeps employees from completing other tasks.
“If I recall it was just a hell of a day of cleaning,” he said, referring to the March 4 protest. “We did have some overtime that day-a couple hours of overtime.”
Additional costs to the campus include work orders from the Physical Plant-Campus Services. A Nov. 20 order states that fire alarms were pulled in at least 26 campus buildings. Specialized personnel were called in to reset and check the alarms, costing $13,428.
The Berkeley Fire Department must dispatch both an engine and a truck to the scene of any triggered fire alarm. Personnel costs for vehicle operators-not including other fuel and equipment costs-are on average $378 per hour, according to Sabina Imrie, assistant chief of special operations for the department.
“False alarms can delay a fire response,” Imrie said in an e-mail. “This could potentially impact someone in need of immediate medical care such as a choking, cardiac arrest, etc.”
Impromptu disturbances, such as the dance-party-turned-riot Feb. 26, cost the Berkeley Police Department approximately $13,000 for patrol operations alone, said Berkeley police Officer Jamie Perkins, spokesperson for the department.
Other UC campuses, too, have seen an increase in expenditures due to protests. The UC Davis campus incurred approximately $14,000 in expenses during March 4 protests due to false fire alarm calls, emergency staff and police overtime, said campus spokesperson Claudia Morain.
Outside law enforcement agencies that assisted the campus generated an estimated $45,000 in additional expenses.
But for some, the monetary costs are worth the freedom of expression. Berkeley resident and UC Berkeley professor of media studies Katie Galloway said she did not mind “footing the bill” for the protests.
“The issues at stake are big, major implications for education so I think (protesting) is a good thing,” she said. “All the great changes in history-sometimes costs are associated with that, but the costs of not speaking up are far greater.