Berkeley universities

Critics protest new UC Berkeley student apartments in People’s Park

On Friday, a group is organizing against UC Berkeley’s plans to build more affordable student housing with a plan to disrupt classes.

The protest targets a plan to build 1,100 units in People’s Park near the Cal campus, as critics say student housing will displace homeless people living there and drive up the cost of local housing, which is an issue of long time for Berkeley in college. Protesters dubbed it “Defending Peoples Park”.

“They’re here every month,” said Joshua So, a first-year business administration student. “It’s almost normal at this point. It’s kind of fun, it adds to the atmosphere at Berkeley.”

Earlier this year, a judge activated an enrollment freeze for admissions at UC Berkeley, saying the school should accept 3,000 fewer students next year until it comes up with housing ideas more affordable.

The state legislature bypassed that and now the university has nine sites in mind to create more housing space, according to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

The school does not build on its own campus.

Mayor Arreguin says he sees both sides of the argument.

“I support the construction of housing on these nine sites,” said Mayor Arreguin. “But we know that building housing on city jurisdiction creates impacts on those neighborhoods, so I think the university should consider building housing on its campus as a solution.”

Students say finding accommodation adds stress to their lives.

“I feel like most students go into this process blind and don’t know how hard and difficult it is to find a roof over your head at Berkeley,” Sanaa Sodhi said. , a freshman at Cal.

Cal senior Jennifer Lopez added, “I definitely wasn’t ready to be this stressed out about housing every year.”

Ramon Mendoza stood with protesters on Friday morning, saying he “really cares” about homeless people living in People’s Park, and has been personally bringing food to them once a week for decades. years.

In a statement, UC Berkeley said the school is grateful to the City of Berkeley for allowing transitional housing and a new day center for homeless people living in the park. The school plans to press ahead with its plans this summer, adding that an independent survey showed 65% of its study body backed the plans.

The student housing crisis is not unique to Berkeley or the Bay Area.

Across the country, students report struggling to find dorms or on-campus apartments at major public universities.

Some have resorted to couchsurfing, renting motels or sleeping in their own cars.