Usually, the Big Game sparks cross-bay pranking and inflames the intense rivalry between the two premier West Coast universities.
But this year, students from UC Berkeley and Stanford are burying the axe in light of the Occupy Cal movement, which has overtaken Sproul Plaza and relegated traditional Big Game week customs to the back of students’ minds.
Student leaders from the two schools are working together to organize a Big Game Solidarity March and Rally before the annual football game Saturday night. Students from both schools will come together to support the Occupy Cal movement and to condemn the police’s use of force against student protesters, according to the event’s Facebook page.
“When it comes to student fees rising and people being beaten by police, there really are no rivalries,” said Michael Tubbs, president of Stanford’s NAACP and one of the organizers of the event. “We may go to Stanford, but what happens at Berkeley affects us too.”
While the Occupy movement is actually a real problem that exists in society, the competition between Cal and Stanford is just a rivalry, said UC Berkeley freshman Jason Rudberg.
“The game is all fun and games, but as far as the march happening, this is a big issue,” said Shawn Dye, political action chair of Stanford’s NAACP, who initiated the event. “We can put aside our rivalry for a little while and contemplate what we can do as students to counter the issues going on at Cal and at Occupy movements.”
This year’s rivalry with Stanford has not been as intense or hostile as in past years, but it is still part of Cal tradition, said UC Berkeley senior Leslie Chen.
“In terms of intellectual agreement on the Occupy movement, I think it speaks volumes that these two schools who have such a long-term rivalry can come together on this issue,” Chen said.
Yet UC Berkeley senior Allie Cohen said she thinks the change in attitude on campus is a symptom of people not caring about football and is not necessarily related to Occupy Cal.
Students will march beginning at 2:30 p.m. toward the football stadium and settle on the red zone — where most Stanford students enter the stadium — to sit for a rally, according to the Facebook event page, which was created by Dye and ASUC President Vishalli Loomba.
“I’d like to talk to Berkeley students who were involved with the beating and police so students can hear their stories,” he said. “It will be an open mic for both Berkeley and Stanford students to come and talk about how they feel about everything.”
Tubbs said he aims to get 400 to 500 students to attend and hopes the event will provide a springboard for future collaborative effort between UC Berkeley and Stanford students — especially when it comes to social justice issues.
“I still want to beat Cal on the field, but I’m hoping it will add some perspective,” Tubbs said. “This is a big game, but there’s a bigger game going on every day … Our common humanity is more important.”