Comparing life at Clark Kerr with life at units

Wayne Hsieh /File

Housing at UC Berkeley can be overwhelming for newly admitted students. We at the Clog wish we’d had someone to break down all of UC Berkeley’s residence hall life options and tell us what life at each building would come to look like. So here’s a breakdown of myths our newly admitted selves had heard about but didn’t really understand:

MYTH: The units are teeming with antisocial n00bs who are basically mutes that hole up in their rooms, eat graded homework assignments for dinner and tan under the fluorescent light of library lamps.

REALITY: The units are significantly more social than Clark Kerr — it’s reasonable to believe that this is by virtue of the units being a larger social pool in a more concentrated space for activity to occur. Even if your roommate is obsessed with coding and prefers D&D over Vitamin D, you have other social options three feet away. 

Maybe there are more “social” people in Clark Kerr, such as athletes and people involved in Greek life, but this also creates a more cliquey scene. These people are usually social within the context of those particular groups, so they’re busier and less likely to expect the bulk of their social reality to come from residence hall life.

MYTH: Unit rooms are tiny.

REALITY: Sorry, not a myth! If you’re a princess, you can just request a single or something — just kidding! This is UC Berkeley and everyone has this experience. Also, you don’t need to bring  as much stuff as you think you do. There’s no room for items such as framed photographs and bulky decorations, your viola from 8th grade, your hair dryer, your bong — oh, wait.

MYTH: Rooms in the units are cheaper.

REALITY: This isn’t true. Room rate depends on the size of the room, not the location. A double in Clark Kerr is the same rate as a double in Unit 3, even though room sizes vary.

MYTH: There are security desks at the units and I won’t be able to have fun.

REALITY: Units 1, 2 and 3 have security monitors, or SMs. They’re students, and all you have to do is tap your Cal ID on a card reader. If you want to bring all your friends with you, you can check them in too. So really, it doesn’t stop you from doing anything, it just makes sure that nobody sketchy gets into the building.

Clark Kerr has open access — though you need a key to access rooms and building entrances, you can, in theory, let anyone in the building that you want.

MYTH: Clark Kerr has bigger rooms than the units.

REALITY: This isn’t a myth; the rooms are bigger and newer. But, every room in Berkeley is going to be a squeeze, and whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to adjust to living in very expensive shoe boxes for the next four years. It ends up being less important than the social scene attached to your living situation.

MYTH: Clark Kerr has big suites, which are the best rooms

REALITY: Clark Kerr does have big multi-room suites, but don’t fall for the luxury of space! By living in a suite, you’re sacrificing your hall. The suites are black holes, sucking you into a confined domestic space that’s not appropriate for a first-year college student. This is the time to explore; settle down when you’re 30.

Plus, halls allow you to have a personal cheerleading squad every time you bring someone home with you. There’s no need to brag about your hookups later — your floor will already know all about it! If you hate your roommate, you can escape. If you’re in a suite, the tension festers in there and ferments — much like the ramen noodles in the suite sinks they provide — and can create a toxic living environment.

All of the fun stuff should be outside of your bedroom — well almost all of it.

MYTH: Clark Kerr is farther away from campus, but it’s not that big of a deal.

REALITY: It’s the difference between being able to go home and shower after your 8 a.m. class. Or the difference between whether or not forgetting your calculator is worthy of you screaming “Fuck!” in the middle of Sproul Plaza when you realize it’s in your desk at home. And when it’s raining, getting to school is either a scene out of “Blade Runner” or a claustrophobic bus ride more intolerable than the lecture for which you’re about to be late.

MYTH: Living in Clark Kerr is better for partying because it’s closer to Greek Row.

REALITY: This may be true, but the units are closer to late night food establishments, which are crucial elements of irresponsible decision-making. Artichoke Basille’s, Asian Ghetto, Top Dog, the glorious Crossroads, which hosts late night options on weekdays, Taco Tuesdays at Remy’s, Yogurt Park, Kip’s, Fat Slice, Blondie’s Pizza and Pappy’s are all a stone’s throw from the units.

The time CKC partiers might gain in walking home from KA is time they would lose in either walking down past the units for food or in waiting for food delivery.

So to conclude, after having dedicated two years of my life to experiencing two very different residence hall experiences, I have subjectively determined that the FOMO of not having the classic residence hall experience epitomized by the units outweighs Clark Kerr’s larger room size and the falsely labeled “more social” scene.

And if you get put in Foothill or Stern, we’re so sorry.

Contact Natalie Silver at [email protected].