Bidding farewell to its view overlooking the UC Berkeley campus, The Daily Californian will leave its sixth floor office in Eshleman Hall for good this Friday.
Faced with the upcoming demolition of the building and with no place reserved for it in the limited space allotted to other student organizations, the Daily Cal will move editorial and business operations to a new office at 2483 Hearst Ave. on Northside.
The move to the new location was made possible in part by a $2.25 million donation from Daily Cal alumna, Liz Simons through the Heising-Simons Foundation, which allowed the university to purchase the building for the paper. Simons, who wrote for the paper in the early 1980s and currently sits on the Daily Cal’s Board of Directors, recognized that the independent student newspaper needed an office where the organization could remain for the foreseeable future.
“I know the Daily Cal has been struggling. It hasn’t been associated with the university, but it also hasn’t been getting any of the (financial) benefits,” Simons said. “It has really been left in the dust, especially in light of all the issues newspapers have had.”
Since 1965, Eshleman Hall has been an inconsistent home to the Daily Cal, sheltering it through periods of financial success and hardship, as well as historical moments ranging from the Free Speech and Anti-Vietnam movements of the 1960s to last fall’s Occupy Cal protests.
Although it moved off-campus in 1971 following the Daily Cal senior editorial board decision to become independent from the university, the paper returned to the campus in 1994.
The new Hearst office, though smaller than the current space in Eshleman by about half, presents a new opportunity for the paper’s staff to collaborate with professional journalists from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism located across the street. The Daily Cal staff will also share the building with the school’s Investigative Reporting Program. The school’s interim Dean Tom Goldstein also played an important role both in identifying and securing the building for the Daily Cal.
“Being right next to the J-School is going to be really beneficial to the entire staff,” said current Daily Cal Editor in Chief and President Stephanie Baer. “Our relationship with the J-school has improved so much over the last few years. They’ve really opened their doors to the Daily Cal.”
With the help of her donation, Simons said the Daily Cal will save an estimated $50,000 in rent and utilities each year, paying $1 per year in rent to the university.
“By being housed in a permanent site that is dedicated to the Daily Cal and the School of Journalism, the Daily Cal will have more security and won’t have to worry about being moved from one campus building to another,” Simons said.
On top of Simons’ donation, money left to the paper by deceased Daily Cal alumni Gene Kramer’s estate will also be used to create an endowment to pay for ongoing building maintenance.
Eshleman’s demolition is part of the multimillion dollar Lower Sproul Plaza renovation project, which was finalized by the passage of the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative in the 2010 ASUC election. Although the demolition is not set to begin until next spring, student groups have been preparing to move out of their offices in Eshleman and into Hearst Gym and Hearst Annex, where the ASUC has reserved temporary space for campus groups left homeless during construction.
According to ASUC Executive Vice President Justin Sayarath, during the planning process for the move out of Eshleman, priority was given to student groups and to businesses that generate revenue for the ASUC. Although the Daily Cal is a tenant that pays rent to the ASUC for its office space in the building, it is independent from the campus and thus does not fall into either category.
“The Daily Cal, although it is a major part of the student body culture, is kind of caught in between because it’s technically a tenant,” Sayarath said in an email. “I think the intuition moving forward for the (Lower Sproul) planners was that we needed to accommodate businesses that would generate a lot of revenue and our student activity groups.”
Sayarath added that this does not mean the Daily Cal would not be allotted space in the new building if it needed the space after the completion of the Lower Sproul renovation in 2015.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of the move for many past and present Daily Cal staff members is the the loss of the bulky wooden desks that have been used almost continuously in the paper’s offices since the 1930s. Originally designed for typewriters, the desks have seen generations of reporters and editors pass through the paper, many of whom have left their marks in more ways than one.
Inside the drawers of each editor’s desk are signatures from decades of predecessors, many of whom have gone on to work for major publications and news outlets around the country, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.
Due to the logistics of moving the desks to the new office, where space is already limited, the desks will be re-sold, according to Baer. The drawers, however, will be saved and taken to the new office to continue the tradition.
Despite clutter, dust and the occasional mouse sighting, the Daily Cal’s office in Eshleman holds a tender place in the hearts of many former staff members who shared meals, all-nighters and stunning views of the Bay from the sixth-floor balcony.
“Eshleman, not just for me but for many people at the Daily Cal, feels like a second home. A lot of us spend way too much time here,” Baer said. “There are a lot of memories here, but it will be great to make new memories.”