A simple Google search reveals that the “Oskis” weren’t the ones to coin the term “Go Bears!” Despite the fact so much of UC Berkeley’s merchandise is based on this slogan (whether it is grammatically incorrect or not), finding out that our tree-sporting foes are one of the schools that pop up after looking up the iconic phrase makes everything in life seem invalid.
Discovering that “Go Bears!” isn’t at all unique to UC Berkeley was quite the groundbreaking news to us at the Clog, and we immediately needed to do a deep dive into our own history. Where, after all, did we even think of this silly yet endearing phrase?
Well, way back in the day, UC Berkeley used a living bear as their mascot, since the state animal is the California grizzly bear (Ursus arctos californicus), for their football games up until 1941. Realizing this wasn’t particularly fair to the bears, Oski was created by William Rockwell (the first Oski) and the former Daily Cal editor Warrington Colescott.
Thanks to this mascot, “Go Bears!” became a natural rallying cry for students to yell in order to support their athletes and scare their enemies away. It overshadowed “Fiat Lux,” UC Berkeley’s actual motto, in popularity and soon UC Berkeley students found themselves yelling it even when there wasn’t a game, simply for the fun of it. As said by our Chancellor Carol Christ herself during a winter commencement ceremony in 2017, “When we say ‘Go Bears,’ we are often thinking of our sports teams, but ‘Go Bears’ means so much more than that. It means go faculty, go alumni, go graduates.”
Despite this rich history, nowadays, the slogan feels more like a meme. Now students yell “Go Bears!” when a professor gives them a particularly horrendous midterm or even when it is just a terrible day. The increasing sarcastic and sardonic tone students adopt leaks into everything they do.
UC Berkeley is known to be academically grueling. Students juggle many things at once and are expected to get through it no matter what. While this means students graduate ready to tackle anything that may come, it can also feel like students have turned into a group of jaded, tired people who are simply chugging along, chanting along the way.
“Go Bears!” has become our identity — we push through, we survive. It’s not only a way to boost the morale of our athletes if we’re losing yet another football game, but a way to boost any UC Berkeley student’s morale. Yes, we’ve also turned it into a meme — but what isn’t nowadays? From the founding of Oski, our beloved chancellor, and UCBMFET, “Go Bears!” has been around for as long as we can remember.
It’s a rallying cry, and it reminds us to be proud of where we’ve come and who we are.