Best building: Berkeley Way West
UC Berkeley’s psychology, public health and education departments may have been disappointed to have to pack up their old offices when, in 2018, they were told they’d be moving to the new building on Berkeley Way. Little did these faculty and staff members know that they’d just gotten a big break.
While Berkeley Way West primarily houses office spaces for faculty, staff and graduate students, it also offers a few classrooms for graduate courses. Undergraduates working on research for one of these departments might be able to snag much-coveted keycard access to one of the building’s many private office spaces, which come equipped with conference rooms for meetings. And, with windows on all sides, the views from Berkeley Way West are nothing short of stunning — head to one of the upper floors shortly before sunset to catch a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge, campus or Downtown Berkeley (depending on which side you’re facing). Then, once the sun goes down, curl up in one of the many comfortable chairs located in the building’s many common areas, and hit the books.
— Shannon O’Hara
Best library: Doe Memorial Library
As any enthusiastic campus tour guide will tell you, there’s no shortage of libraries to study in on campus. And while it’s hard to ever look forward to debugging a coding project, cranking out a 10-page paper or cramming before an exam, setting up shop in Doe Memorial Library makes this process all the more bearable. In the reading room, you’ll find a near silent environment for deep focusing, but when you need a break, you can just look up and admire the gorgeous high ceilings and other memorable architectural features. There’s a reason, after all, that so many seniors choose Doe Memorial Library as the backdrop for their graduation photos.
Doe Memorial Library also hosts more than one impressive collection of literary work, including original manuscripts from Mark Twain and John Milton. If you’re lucky enough to be one of the visitors to Doe Memorial Library who doesn’t have a pending deadline, take some time to check out these collections, or crack open any one of the thousands of books shelved here.
— Shannon O’Hara
Best lecture hall: Wheeler 150
Wheeler 150 is a sanctum. It is the skull of the campus. It is a proper lecture hall, the likes of which demand your attention and your reverence, and the carpeted floor slopes gently toward the podium where the world’s heroes of academia proclaim the secrets of the universe to tomorrow’s doctors, entrepreneurs, playwrights, presidents, intellectuals and guardians of culture.
Wheeler 150 is history. It was here that Ernest Lawrence received his Nobel Prize in physics in 1940 for the invention of the cyclotron, the particle accelerator. It is here that the next cohort of Nobel laureates receives the seeds of its inheritance.
Wheeler 150 is, fittingly, a stage. It is fitting because the finest educators — the only kind UC Berkeley has — are indeed performers. They are not, to paraphrase Shakespeare, poor players who strut and fret but sages whose words are full of more than mere “sound and fury.” Wheeler 150 is a promise that education is very alive in America and in the world. It is a promise that there is a future, and in that future, there will be light.
— Edrick Sabalburo
Best professor: Ani Adhikari
Statistics professor Ani Adhikari is a professor who seamlessly blends high-level content with interesting and pertinent applications, making her one of the most revered instructors on campus.
Adhikari has received the Distinguished Teaching Award for her work and has taught Data 8 on an alternating semesterly schedule over the last four years. Her teaching style and pedagogical acumen have made data science approachable to students from all academic backgrounds while also making the subject interesting and engaging across disciplines. In the past, Adhikari has approached big data through examples such as story structure in literature based on word usage or through historical examples such as how John Snow used principles learned by students in the course to trace the source of a cholera outbreak in 19th-century London.
Data 8 has also become one of the most popular courses on campus, and since its genesis, there has even been the addition of a data science major. This is in large part because of Adhikari, whose teaching has made this subject accessible, interesting and an exciting field to pursue.
— Camryn Bell
Best student-athlete competing in NCAA men’s sports: Reece Whitley
Coming into Cal as the 2017 and 2018 national high school swimmer of the year, Reece Whitley faced high expectations for his freshman year, to say the least. Specializing in breaststroke, he certainly lived up to the hype in his first year of college, walking away with the recognition of Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. As exemplified in his performance at the 2019 NCAA championships, in which the No. 1 Bears took home the national title, Whitley earned first-team All-American honors in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Earlier this season, both he and Cal senior Andrew Seliskar, who was named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year, broke the previous Pac-12 Championship record for the 200 breaststroke. Coincidentally, Seliskar was the most recent Golden Bear to win the conference freshman of the year award, so Whitley will be hoping to take the reins now that Seliskar’s career in blue and gold is over.
— Shailin Singh
Best student-athlete competing in NCAA women’s sports: Kristine Anigwe
Being the best female student-athlete in our Best of Berkeley contest is just one of the several achievements senior center/forward Kristine Anigwe compiled during her four years at Cal. Anigwe capped off her last season with astonishing numbers, averaging 22.3 points per game and leading the nation with 16.2 rebounds. She performed all kinds of heroics throughout the season, leading the Bears to another NCAA Tournament. Anigwe’s 30-30 performance will stay in the memories for some time.
The 6’4” center/forward is the first player in Cal program history to receive All-American honors in all four years, marking her name in program history with gold letters. Anigwe is the record holder for career points, rebounds and blocks for the Bears, and it’s hard to imagine another player in the near future dominating the court as she did for Cal.
— Can Sariöz
Best DeCal: “Brain Like Berkeley: An Insight Into the Artistry of Frank Ocean”
Frank Ocean already provided UC Berkeley students with the best brag in the form of song lyrics when he sang about a “brain like Berkeley” in “Novacane” back in 2011. And now, since last semester, students can take an entire course dedicated solely to the R&B musician. Expected media chaos followed the announcement of the DeCal this past summer, providing the course with perhaps the most hype a DeCal’s received since the Democratic Education at Cal program began in 1965. Sophomore founders and instructors Deborah Chang and former arts & entertainment reporter Preya Gill found themselves doing interview after interview, while receiving praise from Ocean’s own mother and brother — not to mention from his legions of fans.
The two-unit class focuses on Ocean’s artistry, influences, gender politics and musical style. Whether you already have a “brain like Berkeley” when it comes to Ocean or are aiming to be more than a dumb Blonde, all are welcome to apply for the DeCal’s much-coveted seats.
— Caroline Smith
Best philanthropy group: The Berkeley Project
Within the more than 1,000 UC Berkeley clubs and organizations and the hundreds dedicated to public service, there is one that brings them all together. The Berkeley Project, a nonprofit student organization, aims to “permanently change the relationship between the students and residents of Berkeley through hands-on community service,” according to the organization’s mission statement. The Berkeley Project organizes one large-scale volunteer event each semester. Each event sends about 1,000 students to volunteer throughout the city.
Berkeley Project Day exists as a collaboration between the campus and the city, with the city providing funding for the event thanks to an ASUC contract. In 2018, students volunteered at places around Berkeley including San Pablo Park, the Berkeley Waterfront and the Berkeley Rose Garden. In a previous interview with The Daily Californian, Berkeley Project co-President Krishna Reddy said the organization helps fulfill the responsibility UC Berkeley students have “to help those in the community that do not have access to many of the privileges that (they) enjoy.”
By doing so, this club and its collaborative initiatives solidify it as the best philanthropy club on UC Berkeley’s campus.
— Rachel Barber
Best campus performing group: BareStage Productions
This year alone, the oldest student-run theater company at UC Berkeley, BareStage Productions, put together a vastly eclectic and entertaining number of shows for local audiences. From the tense adaptation of George Orwell’s “1984” in the fall to its currently showing “Carrie: The Musical,” this group of dedicated student performers has consistently demonstrated impressive acting, writing and directing chops to theater enthusiasts across the campus and city.
In addition to its impressive stage performances is all of the support that BareStage provides to students who are passionate about participating in and presenting theater, with workshops and events geared toward those who have plenty of experience or those who are simply looking to learn more. BareStage offers budding artists a proper platform to explore their strengths, bring them to audiences and thrive while developing their passions. The company prides itself on building a preprofessional, supportive and inclusive environment, and anyone who has seen a recent BareStage show can attest to the fact that Berkeley is all the better because of it.
— Anagha Komaragiri
Best campus eatery: Brown’s
If you’re searching for high quality, healthy food that you can buy with your meal points — Brown’s is your best bet. Situated in the northwest corner of campus, it’s one of the few eateries steps away from the College of Natural Resources buildings.
In addition to Brown’s being one of the few campus facilities with healthy options, it also promotes sustainability by serving locally grown foods and having an expansive list of veggie options. If veggies don’t sound appealing to you, Brown’s still has great guilt-free snack options such as sweet potato fries.
Whether you’re searching for a wholesome meal or just a good place to study, Brown’s wins both times. Enjoy its sunny outdoor seating, or settle in with a book inside. As an added bonus, you’ll find a Peet’s Coffee housed in the café, so grab a cup of coffee, settle down with your lunch, and plug in.
— Mahira Dayal
Best bathroom: Fourth-floor bathroom in Doe Memorial Library
Should you have the mental fortitude to ascend four flights of stairs to the top of Doe Library while holding it, you will be rewarded with the finest bathroom experience in Berkeley. The highest levels of Doe house not only the department of art history but also the best place on campus to relieve yourself. Its marble stalls, gorgeous Bay views and porcelain (not plastic — porcelain) seats can make nature’s call feel like an invitation to a party from a Fitzgerald novel.
But the Gatsby of bathrooms does not only offer luxury; it also offers solitude. The bathroom’s placement two floors above the North Reading Room can make it unappealing to students looking to maximize their time at the library. For those of us inclined to appreciate life’s more mundane pleasures, however, the solitude of a faraway, beautiful art-deco bathroom is blissful. It’s a place where a stall can become the perfect site of introspection, a time for existential reflection. Not just a bathroom, no — it’s a student’s Walden Pond. And it’s only a few flights away.
— AJ Newcomb