How to conform at UC Berkeley

Ruby Chen/Staff

UC Berkeley definitely isn’t a place that screams “conformity” (although people here may scream it at you). And trust us, we know what you’re thinking: “UC Berkeley couldn’t possibly be a conformist place! Just think of the history! The Free Speech Movement was born here! What would Mario Savio think of this blasphemous Clog article?!”

We at the Clog get it, and we totally agree with you. Or, at least we did, until we realized that there are ironic swarms of conformists walking around the school known for representing anything but sameness. Look deeper, fellow Bears. See those Birkenstocks? And what about those gray, fleece Patagonia jackets that you pass by 10 times a day? Even protesting can be considered an activity to conform to here. It seems as if it’s the very things that make our university stand out as different that are the things that make us all the same. So, whether you’re hoping to fit in more at UC Berkeley or avoid the “trends” that all your classmates seem to be following, we at the Clog are here to highlight the things that everyone seems to be doing at the birthplace of being different.

Wearing Birkenstocks

If you don’t know what Birkenstocks are, then either a) you don’t go here, or b) we don’t even have another explanation for someone at UC Berkeley not having a single clue what these overpriced pool slides are. A clear take on the original hippie sandal seen in Berkeley during the ’60s, it would only make sense that students today would grace (or more like disgrace, because they make your feet look weird) their dogs with a representation of nonconformity. Yet, with Birkenstocks being so widespread here on campus, they’re nothing special and, if anything, they’ve lost their symbolism of nonconformity.

Covering your laptop with social activism stickers

If you don’t have any stickers on your laptop stating “I Voted” or “Feminist AF,” then chances are you don’t go to UC Berkeley. Or, you’re just one of those rare souls who has chosen to not follow the crowd, or rather, the MacBooks. Either which way, we don’t blame you; if anything, we applaud you for showcasing your political beliefs so loudly and proudly for all of your classmates to see.

Wearing gray Patagonia fleeces

If you’re a member of a consulting club here at UC Berkeley, you’re already as conformist as it gets, because, let’s be honest, if you’re not interested in consulting, then why do you even go here? While it’s true that consulting club members obviously don’t make up a huge percentage of the school (because they’re so darn selective), many people just want to get a literal feel of what’s like being a member of Berkeley’s elite by purchasing their own gray Patagonia fleece. Sure, it doesn’t have “TBG” or “VC,” but it might make you feel more secure and welcomed into the community, and for that, we don’t blame you.


If it seems as if protests take place here every day, then we are here to confirm that your eyes are not deceiving you. While free speech and protesting are the herald and jewel of UC Berkeley, it seems as though everyone’s doing it, and that can make it feel old and tired. If you’re really hoping to fit in here and do what everyone else is doing, we suggest buying a stick and a large whiteboard sign and keeping it handy everywhere you go. You never know when a protest is going to break out (actually, you can probably guess).

So whether you’re trying to carve your own path or become a typical UC Berkeley student, we hope your Birkenstocks and protest signs get you where you need to go.

Contact Chloe Lelchuk at [email protected].