Giving UC Berkeley a bad name: The case against ‘UCB’

Illustration of a Cal football player looking at his jersey, which reads "UCB," in confusion
Jericho Tang/Staff

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On June 20, a copypasta was born. Redditor GoldenBear2023 posted a “PSA to UCSD students from the Berkeley community” that pleaded, “Don’t say ‘UCB’ when referring to Berkeley.” They made identical posts on other UC subreddits, calling the use of “UCB” a “dismissive and disrespectful act,” and faced near-instant meme backlash from students in and outside the UC system.

Whether GoldenBear2023 was merely a troll or a well-meaning student seeking to defend their school’s honor, we’ll never know. What we do know is that their post took subreddits and meme pages by storm, opening up an admittedly not-so-serious but still fascinating conversation about the names of UC Berkeley.

Here in The Daily Californian night department, we have one simple rule: Use “UC Berkeley” for any and all references to campus. No calling campus “Berkeley” — that’s reserved for the city — and definitely no “UCB.”

This is probably one of the most unpopular rules with department editors, who argue that having to say “UC Berkeley” when something shorter would suffice is often cumbersome and eats up valuable word count. And, honestly, they’re right on both accounts. But if there’s anything that copy desks care about, it’s consistency, and that’s the main reason why this rule is in place.

Another reason why we stick to this rule is that it aligns with official UC Berkeley branding, which explicitly denounces multiple punctuational variations like the frankly extra “U.C.-Berkeley,” “Cal Berkeley” and GoldenBear2023’s beloved “UCB.” Accessibility is another copy desk priority. We’d run the risk of being too ambiguous by using an unofficial acronym as cryptic as “UCB” and our entire audience might not be familiar with the nickname “Cal.”

More athletically inclined readers might note that the Daily Cal’s sports section is full of references to campus as “Cal.” This exception is only made in athletic contexts because our sports teams began using the nickname in 1895, years before the UC system was made up of multiple undergraduate campuses.

All of this isn’t to say that everyone needs to follow the Daily Cal’s style guidelines. We’re no GoldenBear2023. Their plea for so-called respect may seem to initially find the most support from the copy desk, where sticklers for rules thrive, but policing language should never come from a place of superiority. And out of all the names on campus, UC Berkeley isn’t the only one you should worry about.

So go ahead, call us whatever you’d like — except “UCAL (Berkley).”

Contact Maia Alviar at [email protected].