To our new Golden Bears: Welcome! We hope your summers have been relaxing and rejuvenating, and that you’re excited to take on a new year of learning, discovery and personal growth at the very best public university in the world.
UC Berkeley is a fantastic 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 of campus and explore
Beyond our campus’s borders lie beautiful parks, cozy bookstores, cafés and restaurants of all kinds, impressive art spaces (check out the growing public art collection in the Telegraph district) and so much more. Get acquainted with Berkeley by meandering around the city on a weekend afternoon, or use your AC Transit Student EasyPass to quickly get to a particular destination for free.
Learn about the area’s rich past and its connection to the present
Head north to Mortar Rock Park to see the acorn-grinding pits carved into solid rock by the ancestors of local Ohlone, the Native American people indigenous to this area. Then stop by Ohlone Park, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary with a celebration of Native culture and a four-sided mural. Visit the university archives in the Bancroft Library to learn about the campus’s founding after the California Gold Rush, and download the Telegraph Berkeley Tour app to hear recordings of Berkeley residents talking about civil rights shop-ins, Japanese internment during World War II, the Free Speech Movement, the disability rights movement and other important episodes from our history.
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 up the block. Respect your neighbors’ needs and schedules, and make smart and respectful choices concerning noise and parties. The Happy Neighbors program, which seeks to keep neighbor relations positive through peer education and outreach, can help.
Be an engaged citizen
Ahead of the 2020 election cycle, register to vote here or in your home state! Also, keep your eyes out for information about the 2020 U.S. Census; we want to be sure that every UC Berkeley student is counted in this once-in-a-decade opportunity for Berkeley to receive the federal funding, resources and representation in Congress that it deserves. Don’t miss the chance to get involved in your local community as well: Attend neighborhood events and City Council meetings, participate in cleanup and beautification activities, support community safety efforts and volunteer through the Berkeley Project or the Public Service Center.
Both UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley have ambitious zero waste goals, and your help in diverting, recycling, reusing and reducing is critical. Contribute to our distinction as one of the nation’s greenest cities by making choices with sustainability in mind, such as participating in the city’s reusable stainless steel cup pilot program. Avoid fines by ensuring that waste bins don’t overflow, and by using Cal Move-In and Move-Out resources when you need to get rid of furniture or other large items.
Work with others to keep yourself and your community safe
Berkeley is not free from crime, but you can minimize your risk by being vigilant and aware of your surroundings. At night, travel in groups along main thoroughfares, and keep your electronics out of 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 nonemergency number for UCPD at 510-642-6760 or the Berkeley Police Department at 510-981-5900. In an emergency, call 911, or from a cellphone, 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 the city of Berkeley are closely intertwined, and as students here, we hope that you will also develop strong ties to this exciting urban area and those who inhabit it. Have a great semester, and Go Bears.