Cal Culture

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.

Keeping the Lights On

Fans who attended the Cal baseball game against USC on March 28 did something that no one had ever done before in the team’s 121-year history: They walked into a ballpark illuminated by artificial light to watch the Bears play a home game at night.

From the Summer 2013 A New Deal issue of California.

Administering Change

The year was 1996 and Nicholas Dirks, now Berkeley’s newest chancellor, had just traveled from the University of Michigan to Columbia University to talk about joining Columbia’s history and anthropology departments. There was a hunger strike going on there at the time—a group of students were advocating for the creation of a department of ethnic studies—and he had landed right in the middle of it.

From the Summer 2013 A New Deal issue of California.

A Moment’s Grace

To call it a birthday party would be a bit of a stretch.

It was my 22nd—not a particularly celebration-worthy year to begin with. I also didn’t have any friends with whom to celebrate. I was only a couple months into what would be a year-long stint as an intern at The Bakersfield Californian, and furthermore—since I was in the employ of a newspaper reporting news—planning ahead was a shady proposition.

From the Spring 2013 Growing Up issue of California.

A Man of Many Parts

The wide reach of Frank Davis’s achievements and travels pretty much necessitates a search engine, and he tends to punctuate his sentences with the smiling exhortation, “You could look it up!”

From the Spring 2013 Growing Up issue of California.

The Unretiring Chancellor

During his nine years in the job, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau oversaw a successful capital campaign, orchestrated a $320 million stadium renovation, stabilized the University’s budget, and implemented a plan for giving tuition breaks to middle-class students. His accomplishments occurred during what he describes as “an extraordinary period in the history of the University of California,” when an economic downturn precipitated state funding cuts, tuition increases, campus layoffs, and student protests.

From the Spring 2013 Growing Up issue of California.

Famous Enough

The sun hangs low over Manhattan Beach, giving the ocean a SoCal-postcard glow. Inside a fratty, nautically themed bar, Rod Benson is doing shots of vodka with his buddies. As usual, he has drawn a crowd. A fireplug-shaped guy with a tiny, feral mustache tries to impress Benson with his knowledge of Krav Maga, the Israeli martial art. A couple of blonde, tattooed women trade flirty insults with him. On the margins, a shirtless and very sunburned dude sways on his feet, drawn to the spectacle.

From the Winter 2012 Culture Shock issue of California.

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