Places to hide on Cal Day

Taylor Vega/File
Taylor Vega/File

Ah, Cal Day. A well-known annual open house event put on by UC Berkeley, it serves to welcome the community, current students, new admits and their families to the campus. It showcases the campus’s beauty and accomplishments and inspires the minds of anyone and everyone that attends. It also serves to kill probably an entire forest’s worth of trees from all the flyers that are produced, handed out and promptly dropped into the garbage, fulfill the “Annual Attempt at Violating All the Maximum Occupancy Laws” requirement that apparently exists for UC Berkeley and royally piss off anyone who wants to just get from point A to point B on campus within a reasonable amount of time.

Cal Day’s definitely exciting, don’t get us wrong; but sometimes it can get to be too much. We’ve hastily compiled a list of places for UC Berkeley students to scramble off to as soon as the rumbling starts and the crowds pour in — and we say hastily because we’re busy trying to find a place to hide ourselves. Duck and cover, people: The admits are coming.

Main Stacks

Without a student ID, the massive amount of the general public visiting for Cal Day won’t be able to enter Main Stacks or any of the libraries on campus — not that they’d want to spend the day shuffling quietly around the sterile, deadened hallways of everyone’s favorite academic dungeon in the first place. Spending the day sitting underground with your textbooks for company won’t be fun, but at least it’ll be quiet — and hey, you’ll be motivated to catch up on the webcasts for all of those 8 a.m. lectures you missed instead of leaving them all to watch during RRR Week. Plus, you won’t accidentally end up signing up for the mailing list for seven different clubs you didn’t even know existed and nobody will hit you in the face with a badly managed selfie stick. Probably.

San Francisco

All hell may be breaking loose on campus, but across the Bay, it’s just another normal weekend. There might be a little more crowd inflation than normal from visiting students and their families turning a trip to the Bay Area into a spring break vacation, but the crowds in the city still won’t be as bad as they’re bound to be in Berkeley. Hop on BART in the morning and spend the day doing all those fun SF things you promised yourself you’d do next weekend … and then next next weekend and then the weekend after that. By the time you get back in the evening, the crowds will have thinned out and you’ll have a bunch of great memories of Ghirardelli Square and Golden Gate Park instead of a bunch of repressed trauma from being knocked straight into Oski’s strangely moist chest by the force of the oncoming crowd.

Your room

Unless you live in the residence halls and one of your roommates has agreed to open up the room for housing tours, you can guarantee that you won’t receive any unexpected visitors. Although the floor lounge or residence hall lounge may seem like a safe place, keep in mind that tours might be passing through these areas (especially the latter) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., so you might just want to stay in your room, lock yourself safely away and hide under your covers until it’s all over. Look on the bright side: You can see this as your opportunity to take a well-deserved day off. Spend the afternoon napping, watching unhealthy amounts of Netflix and staying in your pajamas. Best of all, staying in gives you time to browse social media and read all the complaints about how the screaming admits and their selfie stick-toting parents inadvertently created a barricade in front of Sather Gate with their incessant family photos.

Common Grounds

It’s hard enough for veteran students who know the campus like the back of their hand to find this sunny coffee shop, located in the middle of the top floor of Dwinelle Hall (at least, that’s where it was the last time we checked). On a normal day, its isolated location means there are always good seats to be found — but on Cal Day, it means that you and your friends can manage to have your Saturday coffee date in peace without having to wait half an hour in the Peet’s line or engage in one-on-one gladiator battles with a visiting family just to snatch the last empty table. It’s the perfect hideout from the chaos, as long as you can manage to navigate Dwinelle’s twisting halls and make it to the top floor in the first place.

Downtown Berkeley, or far down College Avenue

One of Berkeley’s greatest strengths is the number of hidden shops and cafes you can find if you just take the time to wander around the area. For the most part, the throngs of people will probably stick to Sproul Plaza and the surrounding streets — Bancroft Way, Telegraph Avenue and Durant Avenue especially — because prospective freshmen and their families will want to explore Berkeley’s everyday favorites. It’s not likely they’ll be crowding the lesser-known gems that are farther from campus — the Elmwood Cafe and Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore down College Avenue, or Victory Point Cafe and Shattuck Cinemas in Downtown Berkeley, for example — which makes Saturday the perfect day to go on a weekend adventure a little bit farther away from campus. Good luck. 

Contact Ariel Sauri at [email protected].