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Cal students in campus housing complain of weak security after recent incidents

Cal students complain of weak security at campus housing
Cal students complain of weak security at campus housing 03:11

BERKELEY – Some University of California, Berkeley students living in university housing are feeling vulnerable after trespassers repeatedly entered their buildings.

Freshman Mina Medel said it's hard to focus on homework when you don't feel safe.

"It definitely adds a lot more anxiety to my plate.  Being a full-time student, it's already enough. We've got midterms," Medel told KPIX 5.

She said was thrilled to start her studies at one of the best public institutions in the world. But that excitement changed pretty quickly.

A student enters Griffiths Hall, a building in Unit 2 of campus housing at the University of California, Berkeley. CBS

"I've only been here for a month and a half, and already there's been so much chaos. It's definitely not what I was expecting. It definitely kind of puts me on the edge as far as my next few years here," said Medel.

About two weeks ago, students reported a homeless man got into Griffiths Hall, found his way to an all-women's floor, and walked into the shower with at least one female student in there.  Police arrested the man.

Medel lives on that floor.

"It's definitely really scary, because you're exiting the shower of what you assume is a safe place. And you're met with a homeless man," said Medel. 

Many of the recent incidents happened at Unit Two, a large student residential complex owned by UC Berkeley and located next to People's Park.

Police recently responded to an incident where a man grabbed a female worker's buttocks.

On Wednesday, campus police arrested a man masturbating in front of students at a different housing complex.

A student ID is required to get access into the buildings and elevators.  People believed the trespassers were following students in without a badge.

Along with the recent indecent exposure cases targeting female students, there was also a gun-point robbery of a student.

"Especially if I'm walking anywhere at night, even if it's with a group of friends, I have that Taser in my hand ready to go.  Before, it was like 'oh, I'll leave it at the dorm.  I'm not going to need that," said Medel.

Parents said the university has done little to address the problems.

"Something has to be done, and quickly," said parent Sylvia Sheehan, who has two daughters attending Cal. "Most of us are losing sleep. We're at such a desperate point where we're willing to actually pay for our own private security services."

The university held a Zoom meeting with close to 300 parents on Thursday. But many parents said the university lacked urgency and a plan.

"We're willing to come to school and patrol the residence halls ourselves," said Sheehan.

As for Medel, she said she no longer leaves her door open when she's inside her dorm.

"The university needs to allocate the resources to protect the students, because that really is the bare minimum," said Medel.

A group of parents are currently looking at the cost to hire private security. It's unclear if the university would allow that.

The university sent a statement to KPIX 5 saying they're increasing security.

"The university is hiring 60 additional security monitors stationed at Units 1, 2, 3, and Blackwell Hall, seven days a week (including holidays) from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. and discussion is underway to explore expanding operational locations and hours," wrote UC Berkeley spokesperson Roqua Montez IV.  "UCPD has increased its Community Service Officer staffing from 40 to 57 officers since the start of the semester in August."

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