To Golden Bears new and old, welcome — or welcome back — to UC Berkeley! We hope your summers have been restful and restorative, and we’re thrilled to have you here in what former chancellor Clark Kerr once called the “City of Intellect.”
UC Berkeley is a wonderful place for many reasons, but one of the things that brings so much vitality to our institution is its location within the city of Berkeley — a diverse urban center with a legacy of political activism and a remarkable array of intellectual, cultural, artistic and recreational activities. As you settle in, we encourage you to take advantage of everything this community has to offer and to do so in a way that is respectful to the thousands of other students and residents who call Berkeley home.
To that end, we have a few recommendations for you:
Take time to get off campus and explore
Beyond the campus’s borders lie beautiful parks, impressive art spaces, bookstores, cafés, shops of all kinds and so much more. Build your connections to this place by meandering around the city on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or use your AC Transit Student EasyPass to quickly get to a particular destination for free.
Learn about the area’s rich history
Walk north to Mortar Rock Park to see the acorn-grinding pits carved into solid rock by the ancestors of members of the Ohlone tribe, the Native American people indigenous to this area. Visit the university archives in the Bancroft Library to learn about the campus’s founding and its early years after the gold rush. Download the Telegraph Berkeley Tour app to hear audio recordings of Berkeley residents talking about civil rights shop-ins at a Lucky supermarket, Japanese internment during World War II, the Free Speech Movement, the disability rights movement and other important episodes from our past.
Be a good neighbor
Take time to introduce yourself and get to know those around you, whether they are students down the hall or longtime Berkeley residents who live up the block. Respect your neighbors’ needs and schedules, and make smart and respectful choices concerning noise and parties. Opening up lines of communication can help prevent small grievances from becoming serious ones. The Happy Neighbors program, which seeks to keep neighbor relations positive through peer education and outreach, can help.
Be an engaged citizen
This is an important election year, so we hope you’ll register to vote, whether here or in your home state. The ASUC has plans to put a drop-off ballot box near the student union, and a polling booth will be set up there on election day. Don’t miss the chance to get involved in your local community as well: Attend neighborhood events and City Council meetings, participate in neighborhood cleanup and beautification activities, and support community safety efforts. If possible, volunteer — you can participate in the Berkeley Project’s community service days, peruse service-learning projects at the Public Service Center or explore other volunteer resources online.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Both UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley have a goal of producing zero waste by 2020, and your help in diverting, recycling, reusing and reducing is critical. Avoid fines by ensuring that garbage and recycling bins don’t overflow and by taking advantage of campus move-in and move-out resources when you need to get rid of furniture or other large items. Additionally, contribute to our distinction as one of the nation’s greenest cities by using renewable resources and choosing sustainable options when you can. Visit the Student Environmental Resource Center for more information.
Work with others to keep yourself and your community safe
Berkeley is not free from crime, but you can minimize risk by being vigilant and aware of your surroundings. At night, travel in groups along main thoroughfares, and don’t have your electronics in plain sight. The campus operates night safety services such as BearWalk, night safety shuttles and late night door-to-door rides to help keep you safe. If you see something suspicious, call the non-emergency number for UCPD at 510-642-3333 or the Berkeley Police Department at 510-981-5900. In an emergency, call 911, or from a cell phone, call 510-981-5911.
Living in Berkeley gives you the chance to interact with and learn from many kinds of people, to take advantage of a multitude of resources and opportunities and to practice skills that will serve you well after college. The UC Berkeley campus and city of Berkeley are closely intertwined, and as students here, we hope you will also develop strong ties to this exciting urban area and those who inhabit it. Have a great semester, and go Bears!