The chancellor at University of California Berkeley has an exit plan in case student protesters storm his office.
Nicholas Dirks, the school's chancellor, installed a $9,000 escape hatch in a hallway outside his office to "provide egress" if potential student protesters descend on the administration building, according to the campus newspaper, The Daily Californian.
The emergency exit -- built late last month -- was ordered in response to an April 2015 protest during which students stormed the chancellor’s suite and staged a sit-in outside his office, the paper reported. Students reportedly banged on desks and chanted loudly before being escorted out of the building, some in handcuffs.
Campus spokeswoman Claire Holmes confirmed construction of the door inside California Hall, telling the paper it was installed as a safety measure to "provide egress to leave the building."
The new door did not sit well with some students at the public university.
"There has to be other ways to handle student concerns and protests than simply building ways to avoid them," ASUC Senator-elect Chris Yamas told the paper.
"The chancellor seems elitist and out of touch and inaccessible to the students," Yamas said.
Student protests have erupted on the grounds of the California university for decades, but none ever resulted in a chancellor being physically harmed, Yamas said.
Funds for the escape hatch were approved by the school's president under Be Smart About Safety, a university-wide pool of money set aside for risk prevention.
The door was also roundly criticized in an Aug. 1 staff editorial published by the school paper.
"The money used to construct the exit, while not substantial relative to other UC construction projects, came from a pool of funding to be allocated toward risk services, including protections for campus employees," the editorial said. "It’s concerning that, at a time when campus safety is a national issue and UC Berkeley affiliates are frequently the victims of crimes on and near campus, campus is focusing risk prevention efforts at the uppermost level."
The new escape door was installed four months after the school finished building a $700,000 security fence around University House, Dirks' private residence, to keep out student protesters.
The Daily Californian reported that student activists protesting for workers’ rights marched to the chancellor’s house last November and jumped over the fence while it was still under construction. The protesters proceeded to vandalize the property -- with some throwing burning torches.
University officials, meanwhile, have insisted that he door was requested by the staff, not Dirks, according to multiple reports. University spokesman Dan Mogulof told The Guardian that the term "escape hatch" was a "concoction of a 19-year-old headline writer."
"It’s a door," Mogulof told the website.