When Jim Halpert asks Dwight this question in “The Office,” he’s only baiting Dwight into another one of his pranks. But had he asked a UC Berkeley student, what should their answer be? It turns out Oski’s not even real, so the only bears on campus are statues. In order to rank them, we need to know what determines a good bear statue. A bear should be lovable, like Baloo, yet ferocious, like the bear from “The Revenant.” Also, a good bear statue should have a certain je ne sais quoi — an artistic question that goes beyond the bears once you gaze into their eyes. These three attributes combine to make the perfect bear, but does that bear reside in UC Berkeley?
Bear outside MLK Student Union
This statue is truly an embarrassment. Its disproportionately small head and pointy nose make it hard to find lovable, and its tentatively raised paw is more awkward than powerful. The artistry is just as absent as the other traits, as looking into this bear’s dead eyes stirs up no emotions other than the desire to look at a better bear statue.
Back-to-back bears in Haas
These two lounging bear friends are as huggable and round as they come. While that gives them high marks in lovability, it negatively affects their ferocity. A long look into their eyes reveals a deeper, more somber message, with one bear howling to the sky and the other looking solemnly into the abyss. What are you thinking, bear?
Bears lying outside of Davis Hall
This pair of bears is laid out between Davis and McLaughlin Hall, and they’re inviting you to lie down next to them. Their huge paws yet soft eyes and mouths will make you feel safe, and your only issue will be deciding which one’s arms to fall into. Their eyes are similarly comforting, but hide a secret desire to one day be comforted too. Who will hold you, bear?
Abstract sculpture on the Faculty Glade
This sculpture is only a bear if you choose to interpret it as a bear, and those of you who do will find one that is very hard to love, mostly because it challenges everything you thought a bear looks like. It’s hard to say if it’s ferocious, but it’s definitely not as charming as the previous bears. Evaluating its artistry is equally difficult, because it could just be confusing nonsense, but it could also be artistic beyond comprehension. We’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. What are you, bear?
Bear in front of Memorial Stadium
This bear statue is the one to which all other bear statues should be compared. Its arms are outstretched lovingly — or are they flung out violently? It manages to be both adorable and powerful at the same time. One glance into its wise eyes reveals a lifetime of grief that could not harden a soft, bear heart. This bear knows more than you ever will. Will you teach me, bear?
It’s nice to think back on times when bears could roam the campus freely, but unless Oski turns out to be a real bear in a bear costume, statues will have to suffice. Luckily, Berkeley’s bear statues are almost as good as the real thing, and if you spend enough time around them, they’re almost as good as having real friends, too.