Page One

Money Worries Top Cal’s Tree-Sit Woes

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday July 03, 2008 - 04:34:00 PM

For UC Berkeley officials, money may or may not be the root of all evil, but it’s at the root of their opposition to the ongoing tree-sit outside Memorial Stadium. 

The university acknowledged in its court filings that they want to end the tree-sit in part because it threatens “the university’s reputation among its donor community as an institution that can effectively and efficiently use donated funds.” 

According to Vice Chancellor for Administration Nathan Brostrom, the 17-month tree-sit has already cost the university $11 million in added construction costs and campus Police Chief Victoria Harrison said that law enforcement costs as of June 24 had reached $729,000. 

Every month of delay, Brostrom said, costs the university $770,000, while law enforcement costs at current levels “are approximately $22,000 per day.” 

Brostrom’s declaration said a major threat from construction delays is the possible loss of football coach Jeff Tedford, the winningest Cal coach since 1925, under whose tenure season-ticket sales have soared from 16,200 in 2002 to 41,336 last year, accompanied by a jump in net revenues from football from about $2 million to a projected total of $6.5 million last year. 

But the influence of football prowess extends even further, Brostrom said. “Historically, the top 42 percent of Athletics Department donors have given over 3.5 times as much money to non-athletic programs at the university ($795 million) as they have given to athletic programs ($220 million).”  

But if the stadium gym complex is delayed any longer, he wrote, “many donors will begin to wonder whether the university is capable of successfully executing its high-profile and high-priority projects” and “lose confidence in the university’s ability to make good use of the money donated to it,” resulting in increased difficulty in raising funds. 

In her own declaration, Chief Harrison blames the protesters for a variety of offenses, ranging from trespass to robbery (one arrest), battery to a peace officer (18), “littering (urine)” and “unlawful flag burning.” However a search of the California Penal Code doesn’t reveal a section dealing with flag burning-which is, in fact, the officially prescribed manner for dealing with Stars and Stripes that have passed their prime. 

But the grove has been a rich source of arrests for Harrison’s force, and as of April 23, 93 trips to the lockup had resulted, many of them for repeat offenders. 

During the latest crackdown at the grove, Harrison called on her colleagues at other campuses to provide officers, and the actions that began June 17 involved 52 UC Berkeley officers, 68 from other campuses, plus the nine arborists, two cranes and three cherry pickers. In the days since, 14 campus officers and 15 private security guards have been patrolling the site. 

Harrison said that on the day stepped-up enforcement began, she witnessed tree-sitters dumped gallons of urine on arborists, drop “large amounts of human feces” that splashed the uniforms of some of the police, hurl glass jars filled with urine and feces at officers and arborists, hurl oranges wrapped in urine soaked cloth, cut the hydraulic lines of a cherry picker, punch one arborist in the face, bite another and attempt to sabotage a crane.