On Wednesday, March 23, the UC Riverside chancellor’s house, located on Watkins Drive, was destroyed after the UCR C fell off of a helicopter chain that was transporting the landmark. No one was harmed during the incident, as Chancellor Kim Wilcox was on a family vacation during spring break.
At around 9:30 a.m. a team of three helicopters hooked up the C, which was embedded on the Box Springs Mountain, to a metal chain attached to the vehicles. After pulling the landmark off the mountain for 15 minutes, the helicopters proceeded down Box Springs Road onto Watkins Drive, where the chain snapped and landed on the chancellor’s house.
The C has resided on the Box Springs Mountains since 1957, when it was built by UCR students. After its construction, hiking to the C became a well-known student tradition, until the Perris Valley Line train route blocked a popular entrance to the trail from Box Springs Road.
As this railway prevented many from accessing the trail, UCR officials decided to relocate the landmark to another hiking trail near Watkins Drive and the 215 freeway so that students could access it. This decision was soon derided by many students, however, as the landmark could not be seen from campus.
“If they would’ve succeeded in transporting it to another trail, it wouldn’t be the same,” explained second-year musicology major Sigmund Davies. “The view at the top would’ve been different and the hike would be a lot easier. But now, it really sucks, since the C is completely gone now.”
In addition the transportation project cost approximately $3 million to pay for the helicopters and materials to remove the landmark. Student fees were used to help pay for the failed project, which upset some students.
“This is probably the dumbest thing that the university has done since sending out an email regarding two-ply toilet paper,” third-year economics major Stanton Oakmont stated.
Reconstruction of the chancellor’s house has begun immediately and is expected to be finished by Friday, April 1. The chancellor will currently reside in a suite at the Mission Inn with his family until construction is finished. The university has funded the project through its housing insurance company.
“I am deeply upset that this project ended in failure, and I’m sure that the people in charge of this project will not be coming back to work on Monday,” Chancellor Kim Wilcox stated in an email sent to campus. “Not only has this project destroyed an historic campus landmark, it destroyed my house.” (The email noted that all swear words which the chancellor wished to use were omitted.)
University administration will also provide funding to the material sciences and engineering department at UCR to begin construction on another C. The new landmark will be built on the trail near Watkins Drive.