When Damilare Oladapo looks back at his undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, he says that when it comes to his education, he only made one mistake. “I really wanted to focus on graduating,” says the Nigerian-born English major. “I saw school as a short-distance race instead of a marathon.”
Currently, 17 percent of Berkeley undergrads are first-generation—a group that struggles to cope with the transition to college.
When Gabriela Ledezma was accepted at UC Berkeley as a transfer student from Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier a few years ago, she was delighted. Her family, not so much.
Timothy Leary’s dead, but his legend lives on—albeit on life support.
The acid guru died at his home in Beverly Hills in 1996 at age 75. By then he was no longer the Pied Piper he’d once been, the public figure whose most popular slogan, “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” made him the bogeyman of the establishment—a figure Richard Nixon once called “the most dangerous man in America.”
Drop out. It’s such a leaden term. Yes, yes, Helen Brodsky dropped out of UC Berkeley in 1968, dashing the hopes and dreams of her Cal alumni-laden family. Before even declaring a major (she was leaning toward Russian Lit), she and her new boyfriend, John Meyer, an autodidact with a gift for tinkering and engineering, decided that unsettled times called for adventurous spirits, and lit out for the East, ending up in India.
OK, we know it’s unusual for an alumni magazine to acknowledge, let alone celebrate, its dropouts. Berkeley is different. And that uniqueness is part of what draws people here—not just students and professors, but folks of all walks, many of whom are distinguished in their fields or famous for their exploits.
In countless ways, Berkeley is undeniably different. And that uniqueness is part of what draws people here—not just students and professors, but folks of all walks, many of whom are distinguished in their fields or famous for their exploits.
Richard Pryor was snoozing, draped across the back seat of a car driven by an erudite, bespectacled white man named Alan Farley. It was February of 1971 and Pryor was fleeing Los Angeles, trailing personal and professional casualties: three children with three different women, a few high-profile onstage breakdowns, two parents recently deceased, a flop debut album, and one angry manager who quit after Pryor pistol-whipped him in a tiff over money.
The recipients of the Cal Alumni Association’s Alum of the Year Award are an impressive group, to say the least. The list includes decorated military officers, Supreme Court justices, Nobel laureates, leading industrialists, and renowned authors. None, as far as we know, ever dropped out of the University.
Do the majestic vistas of Yosemite National Park make you swoon? Are you besotted with the equally splendid landscapes of Yellowstone, Zion, the Smokey Mountains, the North Cascades and Rocky Mountain National Parks?
Thank UC Berkeley.
Posted on March 19, 2015 - 4:56pm
On University Avenue in downtown Berkeley, they’ve erected a shiny new marquee—black, blue and gold, with white lettering that almost seems too clean for the boarded-up building and the street beneath it. Dodge the construction workers and step inside, through a modest lobby and hallway coated in old grime and fresh sawdust, until a door opens up into an enormous old theater. It feels like a huge cave or an underground palace of ancient times. The seats are gone, the floor is gutted, and every construction crash and boom feels like the echo of a long-forgotten memory.
Posted on March 18, 2015 - 5:00pm
When did going to college get so stressful?
Nationwide, more students than ever say they feel anxious and depressed—at some point last year, almost a third were so depressed that they said they found it hard to function, according to the American College Health Association. The problem is particularly acute at top tier schools: About 15 percent of UC Berkeley students have used campus counseling services, up from 10 percent five years ago. At UCLA, the number has jumped to 20 percent.
Posted on March 5, 2015 - 12:26pm
We may aspire to La Traviata, but at a certain point, our inner groundling is going to opt for the sludge monster. Space opera, in other words, will always win out over—well, opera—in the hearts of the masses. The American masses, anyway.
Posted on March 4, 2015 - 4:04pm
For everyone who cares about saving the University of California’s cash-strapped Lick Observatory, news that Google is donating $1 million is a boon in more ways than one. Not only will the contribution—a full third of Lick’s current barebones operating budget—support the observatory’s day-to-day activities, but it’s already inspiring other donors to chip in.
Posted on February 26, 2015 - 5:20pm
Contrary to popular belief, “Big Ben” isn’t the iconic clock on the tower atop Britain’s Houses of Parliament; it’s the mammoth, 13.8-ton bell behind the clock, tolling the hours in a low E-natural.
Posted on February 23, 2015 - 6:22pm
Part of the challenge and much of the fun of performing contemporary music is navigating relationships with living composers—as the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players have discovered as they are halfway through their grandly ambitious Project TenFourteen.
Posted on February 21, 2015 - 11:18am