Best of Berkeley: Best of Campus

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Best Place to Party: Frat Row

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I ought to preface this with the warning that I was the only person willing to take this case. That’s right, Frat Row. In an office of more than 200 capable writers, I am your only proponent.

But you know what? I truly don’t believe that you’re as bad as everyone thinks. After all, your own Theta Delta Chi was featured in “The Graduate” way back when. That’s legit. And every single weekend, legions of underage dorm-dwellers desperately try to break into your hallowed halls. That has to stand for something.

You, Frat Row, are a diamond in the rough. Yes, your houses are dilapidated breeding grounds for disease. You delude yourself into believing that quality booze can come in a plastic bottle. But you just don’t give a shit.

And neither do I. You are my Friday night booty call, a dependable last resort for a good time. And it was through your tutelage that I formed my fondest freshman-year memories.

So raise those Dixie cups of Vitali with pride, Frat Row, and blast the bass a little louder. I got your back on this.

— Annie Gerlach

Image: Kira Walker/staff

Hate it:

Do you have a penis? Damn. After you regrettably forget to pledge to one of those truly awe-inspiring edifices on Piedmont with the fancy letters on them, the ones where you get to buy friends, a never-ending supply of kegs and countless character traits you’ll unfortunately have to shed once you decide you want to coexist with “non-bros,” you probably won’t get back in. Without three women flanking you, it’ll be tough gaining admittance to one of these too-good-to-be-true dank, dirty, and dark dens of iniquity that play the most audibly nauseating brand of electro-infused pop music on repeat.

Hey, what about the women? Ladies, I’m sure you like every inch of you being examined and analyzed before you are deemed worthy to experience a level of predatoriness rivaled only by the lions on the Serengeti. No? Shocking.

So, overly sarcastic writer (who has clearly been scorned by one of these “frats” and gets no play), what’s the alternative? Well good sir or madam, take your ass to a co-op, a bar, or, even better, to an old-fashioned house party.

— James Bell

Image: Kira Walker/staff

Best Male Athlete: Jorge Gutierrez

As Pac-12 Player of the Year, he scored just 13 points per game. The Defensive Player of the Year as well, he averaged 1.18 steals a contest.

It’s not about stats for Jorge Gutierrez. It never has been. Cal’s graduating senior guard, the first player in league history to win both awards, has always been defined by his hustle, leadership, tenacity — and ponytail. It flopped around as he dove for loose balls and charged to the basket for three-point plays.

From the very beginning, Gutierrez was the heart and soul of the Cal program. His four years in Berkeley coincide with coach Mike Montgomery’s first four, and together they reaped three NCAA Tournament appearances, three 20-win seasons, a Pac-10 Championship and an undefeated home record against Stanford.

The Chihuahua, Mexico native hopes to be remembered as “a kid who always did the little things to win the game and played hard all the time and pushes his teammates to the max to be the best they can be.”

Es la verdad. Muchas gracias, Jorge. Buena suerte.

— Jonathan  Kuperberg

Best Female Athlete: Brittany Boyd

Welcome to the Brittany Boyd show.

This year the Cal women’s basketball team experienced a resurrection. Despite a first-year head coach and a senior-less roster, the Bears snagged their first NCAA berth since 2009 and made the nation’s best teams take notice.

Nobody epitomized this revamped team more than Boyd.

The true freshman cemented her spot in the starting line-up in her second game. A Berkeley native, she quickly became the unofficial face of the program.

With her self-proclaimed “swag,” Boyd ignited the team’s pace. Her signature: a steal, a breakaway and a physical drive to the basket.

Yet her goal as point guard was to set up plays for teammates. She led Cal in assists and was second in the conference — the only freshman on that Pac-12 leaderboard.

Yet Boyd was still just a freshman. She lacked a midrange shot, and her emotions often sidelined her.

But there are three more years for her to perfect her game; three more years for Cal to get used to seeing her face.

— Annie Gerlach

Best Place to Relieve Yourself: Doe Library 3rd Floor

When I speak of the third floor restroom in Doe Library — and by restroom, I mean the men’s restroom, because I couldn’t tell you if a women’s restroom even exists on the third floor — I am speaking of a room with its own staircase.

This is where the work done in libraries does not take place. This is where we go to find relief and relieve ourselves.

The windows are always open, and so are the stalls: Their doors are either broken or nonexistent, and even the lightest of breezes will be enough to keep them ajar. The open character of our university simply does not die here: The holes drilled between the plastic partitions may not let much pass through, but they do invite whispers of democracy.

Somewhere between the philosophical riddles etched on its walls remains a phone number with promises of better times. In hectic conditions, there are those who wish they had dialed that number. But if you rest your eyes and listen closely, you’ll hear poetry come in with the wind.

— S.C. Woolf

Image: Kira Walker/staff

Best Professor: Alexei Filippenko

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Let’s face it: learning about stars, planets and the galaxies sounds fun in theory, but the field of astronomy is filled with some of the most difficult and “out-there” scientific theories imaginable. Luckily, Professor Filippenko can not only bridge that intellectual gap, but also impart an absolutely exhilarating world view of how the universe works and what that means for you, the trivial human being (i.e.: we are only a speck existing on a speck of dust in the cosmos).

The daunting world of astrophysics is made exciting (or in the case of humanities majors like me, actually comprehensible), through Filippenko’s infectiously enthusiastic personality. Not many professors plan coursework in as devoted and innovative a way as Professor Filippenko does (The man dresses up as a black hole on Halloween, throwing candy at hundreds students in Wheeler Auditorium. What more do you need?). Not to mention that Filippenko is a superstar science expert on supernovae — He was involved with the research team awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for observing the accelerated expansion of the universe.

— Deanne Chen

Hate it:

I’ve never taken a class from Professor Filippenko, but I would say that there is a professor at Cal that is just as deserving of the Best of Berkeley award. His name is Professor Beatty and he currently teaches MCB 50. This class is notoriously difficult, so Professor Beatty tries to mitigate it through engaging lectures. But what differentiates Professor Beatty from the other great lecturers at Cal is his whole-hearted investment in his students. Many of his students from both my personal interactions and laud Professor Beatty for always making time for his students. He even met with me personally after I screwed up on a midterm. He spoke candidly and gave me the harshest criticism I’ve ever received at Cal, but it was done in a caring and constructive manner. Professor Beatty tries to personally interact with all of his students, which is pivotal for an undergraduate’s success. That’s why I believe Professor Beatty was recently rated as one of the 300 best professors in the US by the Princeton Review. He should also be awarded the Best of Berkeley award too.

— Jonathan Tam

Best Campus Magazine: Caliber Magazine

Not even five years old, Caliber Magazine has already integrated itself into the heart and soul of campus life at Cal. The self-proclaimed “Everything Magazine” follows the pulse of UC Berkeley students, reporting on news, culture, fashion, sex, food, technology, drugs, politics and everything in between. The glossy magazine is published once a semester, always with an influential campus figure on its cover. (The music duo And Drop! grace the Spring 2012 cover.) Features like the Greek and Club Awards attest to its vast inclusivity and mass appeal. Students from all corners of the university will find something relevant, interesting and useful in Caliber. Aside from its aesthetically impressive print issue, Caliber also has a regularly updated website that includes a love advice column, person of the week feature and “Play,” a music player that highlights exclusively Bay Area talents. From its inception, Caliber has been the most topical, comprehensive magazine on campus, and continues to put out a product that students can depend on for high quality, honest entertainment.

 — Anna Carey

Image: Kira Walker/staff

Best Place to Hook Up: Main Stacks Between Book Shelves

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There’s nothing quite so sexy as knowledge. Its mystical authority makes you want to undress at lightning speed, grab the nearest attractive person and whisper urgently: “Tell me about special relativity.” This is what makes the Gardner Main Stacks the most tantalizing place to hook up on campus. Centuries of pure intellect beckoning you to grasp what the surrounding thinkers were all truly after: a bit of sensual romance.

Imagine darting through Main Stacks gripping the hand of another. You find the spot, a cavern of dusty books in a remote corner. You grab a volume by Wordsworth and read a line of poetic seduction. Then a furtive kiss and you’re off, ensnared by the audacity of your pursuits.

The primal and intellectual fusing into one — that is the true object of the college experience. Only an encounter in a place so storied and civilized as Main Stacks can induce such a phenomenon. As far as places to hook up go, a pointy bell tower can’t hold a candle to the seductive power of the book stacks far below.

            — Eytan Schindelhaim

Hate it: 

Alright, let me first disclose that for the longest time, I was adamant about crossing Main Stacks off my bucket list — it is, after all, consistently ranked as the top campus spot. But after finally doing it there, I’d say that maybe we should rethink that.

Let me explain. I’m pretty paranoid about getting in trouble. When I finally did it at the stacks, it was really just a whole lot of me being stressed out the whole time about getting caught, having very limited space and options, and overall not a fun experience.

So, if you are like me — a total worrywart who’s deathly afraid of getting in trouble — this would not be a fun experience except for the fact that you can then tell people you’ve accomplished this.

However, since the greatest risks also have the greatest returns, I would like to suggest that if you are going to endure all that stress and paranoia, then it better be more original and epic than the stacks — like at the top of the Campanile, or on the podium of a Boalt Hall lecture hall.

— Kia Kokalitcheva

Best Student Performance Group: [M]ovement

When I walk through Sproul, I’ve got a grimace on my face that screams “Offer me a flyer and I’ll hit you.” My mental forcefield is so tough that no less than a graceful group of cutely costumed and choreographed angels dancing to catchy music could even hope to force a smile onto my mug. Luckily, Cal has got that, and it’s called The [M]ovement.

Even if you’re not the type to spend on a ticket for the student dance group’s semesterly showcase (which always seems to sell out anyways), you’ve probably had the pleasure of seeing them in one of their many public performances every semester. Specializing in jazz, swing and hip-hop dance, the flock of over 120 enthusiastic members are difficult to miss. And they’re no bunch of middle schoolers throwing out jazz fingers. The [M]ovement’s synchonicity, attention to detail and lengthy performances are all testament to their talent and dedication. And if you don’t believe me, try sitting in on one of their late-night rehearsals on Lower Sproul. These dancers have got serious spunk.

  — Sarah Burke

Best Architectual Design: East Asian Library

The East Asian Library is UC Berkeley’s perennial architectural darling and is likely to remain so long as budget cuts circumvent any audacious or creative construction (or until the Romney family decides to pay taxes again). I could list things the library gets right — the long wooden tables (that actually smell of rich mahogany) and the sensual, sophisticated light fixtures — but it’s the cumulative, calming effect of its constituent parts that somehow manages to surprise you each time you visit that makes the E.A.L. the most architecturally daring spot in Berkeley.

Walking into the E.A.L. is like stumbling into the Japanese castle from “Inception” — only it’s not inside Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s mind (You can’t have everything.) There is a sort of poetry to E.A.L. Granite details like the bathroom sinks are referenced in the large granite slabs that denote the various parts of Asia the library’s periodicals and journals originate from. The East Asian Library is a tranquil harmony of ideas that manages to reflect the culture of its contents without being a worn-out Zen cliche.

— Thomas Coughlan

Best Unknown Study Spot: Law Library in Boalt Hall

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I was recently sitting in the Berkeley Law Library sometime between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on a Monday or other weekday, when the library is open to undergraduates. A friend whispered to me, “You know, the chair I’m sitting in could probably fund an R1B course.” This is slightly disheartening for the state of our university, but definitely not for your lower back.

The law library’s got that over-the-top sleekness that gets you pumped to make lists, organize your computer’s desktop and get shit done. There are three places to study, depending on your mood: the wood-paneled classrooms, the steel vault of productivity that is the actual library and the more business-casual atmosphere of Cafe Zeb.

Huge glass windows are everywhere, but the building is earthquakesafe. In the Bay, those two things rarely come together. As a palette cleanser when you’re done studying, be sure to check out the corporate park-style spaces that bracket the library, including a veranda, an al fresco dining area and anti-skateboarding benches.

— David Getman

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While the Law Library in Boalt Hall is certainly a great place to study, it’s unfortunately not open to every student every day. (Undergrads are not allowed on the weekends, holidays and during law school finals period.) That’s why my pick goes out to the Howison Philosophy Library. It’s such a hidden gem, in fact, that I hesitate to publicize its location on campus (but because I believe in study spots for all, I’ll give it to you: third floor of Moses Hall). What’s great about the Philosophy Library is that it’s not a lending library, so it’s free of the usual hustle and bustle and bureaucratic feel of most other libraries. What’s left is the most ideal study spot on campus: rows of long wooden tables, gorgeous windows and natural lighting, classy red armchairs galore and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lined with titles from enough famous intellectuals to inspire even the most brain-dead finals week zombie. If you’re thinking about checking this little-known study spot out for yourself, get your study on early because the Philosophy Library closes at six.

— Michelle Ma

Best Library: Doe Memorial Library

With somewhere around 30 libraries to choose from, UC Berkeley students have the luxury of being picky with their study choices. Finals and midterms generally demand isolating oneself for days in the dismal depths of Main Stacks, but I am a firm believer in the benefits of aesthetics when studying under less urgent conditions.No study area on campus can boast the classical beauty of Doe Library. Whether you prefer the echoing hall of the North Reading Room — with its dramatic barrel-vaulted ceiling and book-lined walls — or the quiet atmosphere and plush seating of the Morrison Library, Doe is everything a top-ranked public university should have to offer its students.Personally, I prefer the Heyns Reading Room’s comfy chairs. The famous authors whose names line the upper walls complements the enormous Revolutionary War-era painting on the western wall. For those who want to seclude themselves, the smaller rooms on the second level are ideal when you can find a spot. And when it’s time to kick things up a notch, Main Stacks is just a few levels below.
— Adelyn Baxter

Best Place to Get Lunch on Campus: Qualcomm Cyber Cafe

Lunch on campus can often be a conundrum — a sandwich from Free Speech Movement Cafe is healthful but maybe not filling enough, chicken strips and fries from Golden Bear Cafe are filling but greasy. The wraps and salads at Qualcomm Cyber Cafe represent a fair compromise between health and hunger. Nestled within Sutardja Dai Hall, Qualcomm requires more of a trek from the center of campus, but the payoff is worth the trip. Wraps are hand-crafted with enough topping choices to make an EECS major’s head spin — grilled chicken, deli meats, bacon, veggies and a whole host of flavorful sauces and dressings. Weary students looking for a midday pick-me-up can get their fix at the Peet’s Coffee & Tea in the cafe. Much like the building it resides in, the cafe space is a marvel to behold, defined by geometric shapes, bright colors and even a room that is entirely orange. All of these positives make Qualcomm Cyber Cafe a desirable lunch destination, and the reasonable prices will keep both customers with and without meal points coming back.

Christopher Yee

Image: Kira Walker/staff

Best DeCal: Harry Potter and the Marauders Map

Where else other than UC Berkeley can there be a class or, in this case, a DeCal dedicated to the amazingness that is “Harry Potter?” The two-unit course entitled Harry Potter and the Marauders’ Quest offered under the history department explores topics, themes and issues brought up in the popular book series. Students in the course have the privilege of telling people that they read all seven “Harry Potter” books this semester — for class, of course.

Every “Harry Potter” fan’s dreams of studying magic at Hogwarts, being sorted into one of the four houses and playing Quidditch don’t all come true, but it is close. Getting to play Quidditch, read all the “Harry Potter” books and then discuss it with like-minded muggles is not an opportunity to be missed.

If only the DeCal included a field trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Florida, it would be the most magical DeCal ever. It is my hope that this DeCal continues to be offered to appease the successive generations of “Harry Potter” fans that come to Berkeley (which, for some hardcore fans, can seem like Hogwarts).

— Aliyah Mohammed

Best Historical Place of Interest: The Campanile

An emblem of the campus and the third tallest clock tower in the world, Sather Tower is also the only place where you can survey your domain from 200 feet above ground and take a requisite self-portrait with the breathtaking view. Also known as simply “the Campanile” because of its resemblance to the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, the tower stands 307 feet tall and consists of seven floors plus an observation deck. It was designed by the College of Environmental Design’s founder John Galen Howard and completed in 1914. The top of the tower houses a full concert carillon composed of 61 bells, the original of which is the 10,500 pound “Great Bear Bell,” a gift from Jane K. Sather. It tolls every hour and is decorated with bas-relief carvings of bears and the Ursa Major constellation. The tower has been the site of protests, suicides, more than a few romantic rendez-vous and even has its own legend. Although other landmarks on campus are no less significant, none of them offer a high quite like the Campanile.
— Oksana Yurovsky

Best Place to Take a Nap, Best Place to Spend a Sunny Afternoon and Best Place for Creative Writing: Memorial Glade

Taking the cake for best place to take a nap, best place for creative writing and best place to spend a sunny afternoon, Memorial Glade has it all. Sure, it may not be the most surprising winner, being a huge grass field in the center of campus and all. But you really can’t go wrong with that. During the three-to-five weeks per year when the weather is nice, everything you want to do (that does not require reading a computer screen or being naked) becomes about 100 times better when you do it on Memorial Glade.
Swimsuit-clad students tanning, people walking their dogs or that brooding musician poetically strumming his or her guitar are usually abound, providing a relaxing atmosphere for you to get your creative juices flowing into that poem or short story. And if you’re just there to enjoy the sun and get your vitamin D on, there is hardly any shade to get in your way. Grab a picnic lunch and a magazine (or maybe a Daily Cal), and you’re good to go. Just make sure not to nap for too long.
— Nastia Voynovskaya

Best Place to Stargaze: The Big C

With the hustle and bustle of city life, it’s often useful to take a step back or, in the case of Berkeley’s best stargazing site, to take a hike to look upon the all-encompassing heavens and remember that we are but a small part of this vast universe.The best place to consider the cosmos? The Big C. The giant letter C on Charter Hill, a source of pride for generations of Golden Bears, claims the hillside as its own. The letter is an invitation for Cal bears and celestial aficionados alike to soak in the stunning astros. Gaze upon the quiet night spectacle in silence; words are superfluous to the stars.Despite habitually clouded skies and the blight of light pollution, the view of Berkeley and the greater Bay from the hillside landmark is worth the journey. Start at the parking lot above the Greek Theatre. Fear not the steep, tree-lined path. The treat at the top — the treat of the sky, the treat of the golden Bay we call home — is well worth the trek.

— Natalie Reyes

A previous version of this article misspelled Cal basketball player Jorge Gutierrez’s last name incorrectly.