To our newest Golden Bears: Welcome to Berkeley

Welcome, new UC Berkeley students! We would like to congratulate you on your decision to join the community of outstanding scholars, world-class researchers and all of the talented and committed individuals who make the University of California, Berkeley, the best public university in the country. We also want to welcome you to the city of Berkeley, a diverse urban center with a historic legacy of progressive innovations that improve the quality of life for its residents and the region. Together, the city and campus offer an unparalleled set of intellectual, cultural, social and recreational offerings for students, and we can’t think of any better place for you to spend your college years.

For nearly a century and a half, campus and the city of Berkeley have been closely intertwined, and we urge you to spend time in the city, visit its public spaces, meet your neighbors, volunteer locally and involve yourself in the civic life of your new home. As you make your way through the neighborhoods surrounding campus, you will encounter all manner of people — renters and homeowners, families and single professionals, students and seniors — many of whom are UC Berkeley alumni, and all of whom are proud stewards of the city and campus.

Whether you spend your next few years in university housing, a co-op, a fraternity or sorority house or a private house or apartment, we encourage you to join with the many other students, campus leaders, community residents, city workers and dozens of local organizations all working to create inclusive, safe, sustainable and livable neighborhoods. Toward this end, we offer the following principles, information and resources:

Be a good neighbor. When you move into new housing, take time to introduce yourself and get to know those around you, whether they live next door or down the block. Respect your neighbors’ needs and schedules, and make smart choices — especially concerning noise and parties. Violations can result in penalties, steep fines (which can reach $2500) and campus sanctions. Discuss potential conflicts with your neighbors and keep channels of communication open. The Happy Neighbors program, which seeks to keep neighbor relations positive through peer education and outreach, can help.

Keep your neighborhood clean. Both the City of Berkeley and UC Berkeley have a goal of producing zero waste by 2020, and your role in diverting, recycling, reusing and reducing is a critical one. Avoid fines by ensuring refuse and recycling bins don’t overflow and by taking advantage of Cal Move-In and Move-Out resources when you need to get rid of unwanted furniture or other large items.

Get involved in community life. Attend neighborhood meetings and events, participate in neighborhood cleanup and beautification activities and support community safety efforts. If possible, volunteer — you can participate in the Berkeley Project’s community service days or find a public service learning opportunity that is right for you.

Work with others to keep yourself and your neighborhood safe. Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially at night. If you see something suspicious or unlawful, call the non-emergency number for the UC Police Department at (510) 642-3333 or the Berkeley Police Department at (510) 981-5900 and be prepared to provide a description of the problem and people involved. In an emergency always call 911, or from a cell phone call (510) 981-5911. You can also learn more about how to be an active bystander through Bears That Care.

Finally, contribute to our legacy as one of the nation’s greenest cities. There are many ways you can go green: You can bring your reusable water and coffee containers to campus, take shorter showers and choose to walk, bike or take public transit whenever you can. Check out the Student Environmental Resource Center for tips and ways to get involved in Berkeley’s sustainability community and be sure to participate in campus’s Earth Day each spring. Furthermore, right now California is experiencing a drought of historic severity, and every drop counts as we look to reduce water use. Check out the university’s drought response page for updates and water-saving lifestyle tips.

Berkeley is a spectacular place to live and learn, and we are proud to have you join our community. Have a great year at UC Berkeley and a wonderful time in the neighborhood.

Tom Bates is the mayor of the city of Berkeley, and Nicholas Dirks is the Chancellor of UC Berkeley.
Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.

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