Cal Culture

Warm Hearts and Feet: Students To Distribute Sleeping Bags to Homeless

The December chill that proved frigidly fatal to several homeless people in the Bay Area also has spurred a team of students at UC Berkeley and San Jose State into action. They helped launched the Sleeping Bag Drive—which on Friday will begin distributing 300 pairs of wool socks, beanies, and zero-degree sleeping bags to the vulnerable communities.

“It’s a scary thing that people are dying,” says Taliah Mirmalek, a Cal senior majoring in political science and rhetoric. “We were just happy to be able to share the opportunity to do something about it.”

The NSA, the FBI, and Cal

Long before Edward Snowden’s disclosures about massive National Security Agency surveillance programs like Prism and Bullrun, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI cast a wide intelligence net over the nation, especially public institutions, including the University of California.

Then, as now, the nation entrusted its intelligence agencies with great power and secrecy to protect it from foreign threats. During the Cold War, it was the Soviet Union. Today it is al-Qaeda terrorists.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Out of the Gate

We are cycling through Thailand in the scorching heat. Carlos and I arrived in Bangkok six days ago, where we met our friend Laura to plan our cycle tour through Southeast Asia. This is our second day riding and we’re still learning how to find and buy street food.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Finals With Fido: Therapy Pups Visit Cal to Soothe Students’ Stress

Clusters of Cal students burst into cheers outside Moffitt Library on Tuesday as they watched a fluffy blonde terrier perform “high-five” tricks and a bulldog roll over, her tongue—and belly—sticking out. For a few minutes, at least, the frenzy of finals had dissipated.

Said senior Emiko Minatoya-Shields: “I’m pretty sure you could just sob into their necks if you had just failed something.”

Clark Kerr’s Classic: The Uses of the University Turns 50

Fifty years ago, Clark Kerr, president of the University of California, delivered a speech at Harvard about the university’s role; his talk would roil academe. Some would praise him for delivering an incisive and unflinching description of the modern university, while others would savage him for advocating a “factory” that served industry and government at the expense of students and higher education.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

University Champion

You would not have picked 17-year-old William Powers Jr. for a firebrand when he drove his ’55 Chevy to campus in 1963. He was a gangly blue-eyed kid, nervous, certain that everybody was smarter than he was. He was a chemistry major but always avoided raising his hand in class. The Free Speech Movement would start the next year, but he wouldn’t be part of it.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Tough Stance: A Q&A With the Authors Who Say Cal Athletics Should Learn from Stanford

All hell was breaking loose over UC Berkeley’s abysmal graduation rates for football and men’s basketball players as California magazine was doing final edits on the Winter 2013 issue. That magazine was to include an in-depth interview with the authors of a paper on the Cal Athletics program, which, in singling out graduation rates and the commercialization of sports on campus, helped spark the recent controversy.

“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.

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