Parents fed up with student safety at UC's residence halls

Parents are angry and fed up with the lack of safety for their children at residence halls at University of California at Berkeley, one of the world's premier schools.  

Trespassers are getting into the residence halls, prompting some parents to organize to hire security, said a parent who attended a safety meeting Thursday with university officials. The parent Kimberly Plummer has a 17-year-old daughter attending UC Berkeley and living in the residence hall.  

Plummer said about 270 parents attended Thursday's meeting on Zoom, a number that a university spokesperson confirmed.  

"Parents don't want to wait," Plummer said.  

She and others said UC Berkeley officials at the meeting did not come up with any concrete solutions that could be implemented now. Some parents are willing to pay out of their pocket for security.  

Another parent said in a social media post that a male suspect masturbated publicly outside the Unit 3 residence hall. Then he went inside and washed himself off in a public water fountain.  

The incident happened early Wednesday morning, UC police said. The person was arrested for indecent exposure and annoying/molesting a victim under 18 years old.   

Another one occurred Sept. 15 when a trespasser got into Griffiths Hall and found the way to a women's shower. Police arrested the suspect, Plummer said.  

Another trespasser grabbed an employee's buttocks recently in Cunningham Hall on Haste Street, Plummer said.

She said Sunny Lee, associate dean of students at UC Berkeley, admitted in the meeting that parents were not satisfied with the university's response to the safety problems.  

A university official was unavailable to comment Thursday afternoon. 

"We don't see any security monitors at dorms," Plummer added.  

Security monitors are students who sit at the entrance to residence halls and are connected to police.  

Visitors walk by the Benjamin Ide Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley, Calif., on July 21, 2021. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

University spokesperson Adam Ratliff confirmed that claim and could not immediately say how many halls do not have security monitors.  

"Security monitors are currently stationed at Units 1, 2, and 3, and Blackwell Hall, 7 days a week (including holidays)," Ratliff said by email.  

Security monitors work from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week, Ratliff said. He said the university is working to restore the staffing levels present before the pandemic started. 

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The university is hiring 60 additional security monitors, Ratliff said.  

He said residence halls are fully staffed with resident assistants, who are available to respond to incidents and bring them to the attention of police.  

University staff are working to educate students on the best way to stay safe in a dense part of the Bay Area, Ratliff said.   

"How can Berkeley remain the number one institution in the U.S. (according to Forbes) yet cannot keep their students safe," Plummer said. "Berkeley you can do better."