Public Comment

A divine deal: Berkeley student co-op can bring affordable living and preserve PSR’s historic mission on Holy Hill

PSR Alumni/Alumnae
Friday February 10, 2017 - 07:49:00 PM

Holding our beloved Pacific School of Religion close to the heart, we urge our Alma Mater to take the Berkeley Student COOP up on their offer to purchase and preserve two beautiful campus buildings to provide continuing affordable student housing on this sacred and truly Holy Hill.

We who have drafted this letter are typical of those whom PSR has prepared for ministry as clergy, and as workers, including artists and writers for peace and justice outside religious institutions. Our formative years of challenging graduate study were spent in what to all of us is the sacred space of these architectural treasures. We were heartbroken when we learned that plans were afoot to bulldoze these irreplaceable structures to build high rise luxury living quarters accessible only to the economically privileged. Providentially this spiritually destructive scheme has collapsed just in time for PSR to save its soul.  

Owning the bulk of the property on Berkeley's Holy Hill, our Alma Mater holds an embarrassment of riches. We understand that changing times may call for the divestment of some of these campus holdings. Nevertheless, faithful stewardship requires that the new uses for these resources remain in harmony with PSR's bold legacy of social justice and solidarity with the world's less privileged. As liberation theologians put it: making a preferential option for the poor . . . the disinherited.  

The Ridge Path across the campus and the indescribably beautiful sunsets over the Golden Gate Bridge viewed from the Ridge Path Steps are features of PSR that are artistically spiritual treasures. They must not be compromised. This oasis of classic architecture, priceless landscaping and unique Bay views makes this sacred ground for far more than those who have matriculated over the years. Berkeley itself loses a treasure if the artistic integrity of our land is sold for a mess of pottage. 

A great start for this inevitable transition will be for the Berkeley Student COOP to assume occupancy of the two identified residence halls. Not only do they pledge to preserve the architectural legacy, they also have a long history of providing sorely needed affordable student housing. Priority placement is given for EOP [Economic Opportunity Program] students . . . improving the access and retention of historically low-income and educationally disadvantaged students, veterans, the disabled, and the undocumented. 

A perfect fit indeed ... assuring a preferential option for the poor and disadvantaged. Yes, PSR might realize more if they seek the top dollar of the highest bidder. But such a greedy move will come at high cost of the soul of our beloved Alma Mater.  

We urge PSR to boldly accept the cost of discipleship by foregoing the "highest bidder" strategy, to negotiate in good faith with the Berkeley Student COOP and to transform these resources into uses in line with the best values and finest traditions of this institution that nurtured us. 




Honoring the legacy of Pacific School of Religion 

and hopeful for the future of Berkeley's Holy Hill,  


Rev. George Killingsworth / PSR class of 1960
Rev. Peter Schneider / PSR class of 1955
Pat Vought Schneider / PSR class of 1957
Rev. Alan Green / PSR class of 1959
Rev. Donald Fado / studied at PSR 60s and 90s
Rev. John Bartlett / PSR class of 1959
Rev. Frank Thomas / PSR class of 1957
Rev. Leon M Riley / PSR class of 1964
Rev. Jacqueline Meadows / PSR class of 1961 and 1974
Rev. Tom Butler / PSR class of 1960
Rev. Ben Fraticelli / PSR class of 1961 

Rev. Dr. Mark Rutledge / PSR class of 1961