Cal Culture

“Fund Me:” Researchers who can’t get corporate funding forced to get creative

With government funding more scarce, corporations have stepped in to underwrite an increasing amount of research in academia—as we’ve reported, industry now accounts for about 10 percent of funding for research at UC Berkeley, double the percentage it was two decades ago. But what about the iconoclastic researchers—the ones whose work is either irrelevant to, or at cross-purposes with, the profit-minded interests of corporate funders?

Cal lecturer’s email to students goes viral: “Why I am not canceling class tomorrow”

“I email my students all the time—that isn’t unusual,” Alexander Coward tells us. “What is very unusual is for one of those emails to go viral.”

The UC Berkeley’s math lecturer’s surprise is understandable. Among the torrent of listicles, kitty gifs, and youtube clips depicting moderate-to-severe injury that seize the imagination of the Internet daily, an email from a professor to his 800 students about the scheduling details of his class is hardly the stuff that memes are made of.

Pied Paupers? Devoted Cal Band keeps marching on a shoestring budget

The Cal Band is an indubitably upbeat bunch, its can-do spirit personified in longtime band director Robert Calonico. Which is why—despite being significantly underfunded and forced to foot many of their own expenses in support of the University—the band’s director and musicians prefer to stress how grateful they are for what they do receive.

But not everyone is so unfailingly optimistic.

Bad News Bears: Report dings Cal’s strikingly low admissions bar for student athletes

If they were winning, the news might not seem so bad. But they’re not. And it is.

Cal football is currently 1-10 on the season and has the worst-ranked defense in the country. As of the latest available statistics, they also have the lowest graduation rates of any BCS school—that is, of any major college football program in the country. Only 44 percent of players admitted between 2003 and 2006 graduated within a six-year time frame.

For the men’s basketball team, the rate was even lower—just 38 percent.

A Walk on the Eccentric Side: Walking tours peruse the ins and outs of Berkeley

Their faces concealed under paper-bag masks, three protesters chant “Down with Emergency! Free India Now!”—an anachronistic reference to a 19-month period in the 1970s when India was essentially a police state. But this Berkeley demonstration is not being staged by a band of confused time travelers.

It is instead a recreation of a real event from the rich history of the Cal campus—and a key stop on the Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour.

“Not Enough” from Napolitano: Critics balk at $5 million in aid to undocumented students

New UC President Janet Napolitano’s announcement of a $5 million aid package for undocumented immigrant students appears to have done little—well, make that nothing—to assuage those most fiercely opposed to her appointment. If anything, it has sharpened the attacks. Characterizing the aid as an insincere response meant to deflect criticism, they continue to demand she simply resign.

Crash Course: Cal and its surge of foreign freshmen struggle to adjust to one another

The first time Larry Zhou traveled outside of China, it was to start his freshman year at Berkeley in 2010. The University’s bid to admit more international students—they would enhance campus diversity and pay sticker-price tuition—brought a surge of foreign arrivals with Zhou. More than a third came from Chinese territories.

Zhou, now a senior, had studied British English in high school in Suzhou, about 65 miles west of Shanghai. He did so well on a language test that his school encouraged him to study abroad, and he garnered a high verbal SAT score as well.

Raspberry Ratified: But have such Berkeley student votes ever accomplished anything?

Janet Napolitano may have earned the support of the UC Board of Regents, but at Berkeley, the Associated Students of the University of California are not so easily swayed.

Convening for their weekly meeting, the student senators of ASUC have offered their collective assessment of the UC system’s controversial new president. And, lo, the former Homeland Security chief has been found wanting.

Movie Romance

On a warm summer night in Berkeley, a diverse group of movie­goers congregates on the south side of campus, just off Bancroft, near the entrance to the Pacific Film Archive (PFA) Theater. The building is sort of a hip take on a Quonset hut—intended as a temporary alternative to the theater in the Berkeley Art Museum (BAM), which has been closed for retrofitting since 1999. Yet, like the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, it still serves dutifully, screening films nearly every night of the year.

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

The Right Fit

Sonny Dykes, Cal’s new head football coach, had the highest-scoring offense in the country last year as head coach at Louisiana Tech. And for Cal fans coming off a string of lackluster seasons, the promise of big offense is welcome news. “We will be fun and we will run and we will be fast,” Dykes told ESPN after his five-year, $9.7 million contract was announced.

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

40 Signs You Fell for Berkeley “Click Bait”

It’s still ricocheting around cyberspace, shared via Facebook from alum to alum. Indeed the BuzzFeed post “40 Signs You Went to Berkeley” has proved an irresistible 2013 hit with its narrow niche of an audience, racking up more than 200,000 views and counting.

But it’s also become a flash point of controversy about what, if anything, its popularity reveals about the future of online “content”.

Merit in the Mirror: California whites redefine it to reflect their kids

Boil the American Dream down to a single maxim and it’s this: “If you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to get what’s yours.” Our mutual commitment to meritocracy is, we’re told, about as central to our national character as baseball. Divvying up gains based on ability and hard work (as oppposed to, say, your family’s social status, race or religion) is not only a workable way to organize an economically productive society—it also seems fundamentally fair.

The Harvard Humblebrag

The lovely young woman has been admitted to the master’s program at Berkeley’s School of Public Health and she is seeking my advice. She’s also been accepted to Harvard and several other top schools, she says, and is weighing her options.

I make the appropriate comments. I have nothing negative to say about Harvard, or any other of the schools of public health she is considering, I tell her. Each has its pluses and minuses and so forth and blah blah blah.

From the Summer 2013 A New Deal issue of California.

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