Human Behavior

Transitioning with Grace: Coming Out in Academia

For Grace Lavery, coming out as a trans woman was nerve-racking at first. A professor in Berkeley’s Department of English, she was afraid of how her colleagues and students would react. As she explains, a certain amount of criticism comes with the territory of being in academia, adding that, “in my profession, there’s always some degree of anxiety.”

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Will Distance Learning Make Education Inequality Worse?

Ever since Bay Area school districts announced they would begin the fall 2020 school year with distance learning due to the still-increasing rate of COVID-19 infection across the region, parents have been scrambling to figure out how to manage their children’s schooling.

Coronavirus Has Changed the Game for Alumni Travelers

In January of 2014, a woman in her 80s, who sometimes used a cane to walk, stood on a platform hundreds of feet up in the canopy of a Costa Rican forest, getting ready to leap into the sky.

“Nobody thought it was a good idea,” says Darek DeFreece, who was president of the Cal Alumni Association at the time. CAA was leading the trip through its Cal Discoveries Travel program. “I went and talked to her, and she said, ‘Look, I’ve got one more chance to do this in my life, and I want to go.’”

Housing Insecure Students Face an Uncertain Future

Rebecca Alturk would have graduated from UC Berkeley in May. As she crossed the stage to retrieve her diploma, cheered on by her mother and 6-year-old son, she might have reflected on her childhood living in motel rooms between evictions, or her rocky start at Cal, trying to balance raising an infant with a full course-load.

One Man’s Search for Baseball’s Underdogs

Of all the casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, the delay of the Major League Baseball season ranks pretty low on the list, closer to the cancellation of Coachella than the shuttering of all public schools. And yet for many people sports would have been the ideal distraction from the stress and uncertainty of the present moment. Alas, baseball is just one of a long list of things we must do without for the foreseeable. But remember, baseball is America’s most written-about sport.

Is ‘They’ Here to Stay?

“Letter-for-letter, no part of speech gets people more worked up than pronouns do,” Geoffrey Nunberg wrote last year in an op-ed for NPR. But this “pronoun rage,” which speaks to the growing agitation around gender and identity politics, isn’t all that new, he says. And he would know. 

From the Spring 2020 issue of California.

Jack Scott and the Jock Liberation Army

PATTY HEARST STARED OUT THE WINDOW at the corn rows flying past, bored to death by the man next to her who talked nonstop about sports and revolution—two things she was pretty sure had nothing to do with each other. The man’s name was Jack Scott. He was 32, balding, with a runner’s build and alert blue eyes that Patty would later describe as shifty.

From the Spring 2020 issue of California.

The Real Life Black Mirror?

Recently, I was in a Lyft in Los Angeles discussing the British dystopian television show, Black Mirror, with my driver. I told him about the episode in which every person you interact with can rate you: coworkers, friends, baristas all have the power to determine your social capital. “Oh!” the driver interrupted, “they already have this in China!”

To Like or Not to Like: Will Killing the “Like” Button Save Insta?

On July 17, Instagram announced the unthinkable: the company was exploring the idea of hiding the number of “likes” from its photo-sharing platform. According to the company, the new design would encourage “followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” ostensibly shifting the emphasis away from the quantity of likes to the quality of content.

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