An Open Letter to the Associated Students of the University of California

Carol Denney
Tuesday February 05, 2019 - 09:40:00 PM

Dear ASUC officers and senators,

I am a UC alumna who went to school at UC Berkeley in the 1970s. I've worked for years in the Bay Area on public health, public art, and public music projects, and I've been part of public service groups working mostly as a volunteer on historical projects intended to protect and preserve the living connection between our contemporary experiences and our history.

I'm writing to express my horror at the short-sighted, selfish presentations that apparently ASUC senators and student officers felt inspired to make on behalf of the building project at 2190 Shattuck, which will block the view corridor between the UC Berkeley Campanile and the mouth of the Golden Gate, a distinctive geographical feature legendary long before the Golden Gate Bridge was built. "Fuck the view" is one of several signs these student leaders were apparently inspired to use to illustrate their callous lack of interest in a federally protected landmark, a campus feature beloved by visitors and alumni which is also threaded through hundreds of years of sailing history because of the unique, dramatic geography of what is now known as the San Francisco Bay. 

The false dichotomy between housing availability and this view was, I thought, too obvious to be embraced by anyone who was accepted to UC Berkeley, but apparently escaped these students, who are pictured in the Berkeley Daily Planet smiling at their success in helping destroy something it took hundred of years, and thousands of students, historians, and architects to preserve for the generations to come up to this moment in time. 

UC Berkeley owns 10 acres at Smythe-Fernwald, and another 130 acres at Clark Kerr which it could use to address not only all UC Berkeley students' pressing housing needs but the rest of the town's and the faculty's as well. A truly informed student body would be pressing the university to do just that rather than destroy beloved local landmarks - especially on behalf of market-rate housing they will never be able to afford. 

One can only hope that it will dawn on them someday that their greatest accomplishment as UC Berkeley students was to destroy what others spent hundreds of years honoring, respecting, celebrating in paintings, plays, and songs, and working countless hours to preserve. Someday that leering photo with their profane signs will be used to deny them the jobs and promotions which rightly belong to more thoughtful, respectful people.