UC Berkeley student orientation events to be held in person, virtually in coming months

photo of a virtual campus tour
Anthony Angel Pérez/Staff
A number of new student orientation events, such as Calapalooza, Caltopia and Golden Bear Orientation, will be held both virtually and in person.

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As the flood of students returns to campus, a number of events — Caltopia, Calapalooza and Golden Bear Orientation, or GBO — will be held virtually and in person in the coming months.

The events, which have traditionally been mainstays of the new student experience, play a role in helping admits get their bearings and find their places amongst the vast collection of communities and clubs on campus, according to the UC Berkeley website.

Calapalooza, the biannual student involvement and club fair, will be entirely virtual this year, said student affairs spokesperson Emily Viemeister. As virtual Calapalooza has no size limitations, all fully registered student organizations that wish to participate will attend. The fair will take place online from Sept. 7 to Sept. 10, and each day will feature different categories of organizations.

In contrast, Caltopia, known as the largest “college student lifestyle event” in the nation, is expected to return fully in person Aug. 29 after being held virtually last year, Viemeister added. The event usually happens in the Recreational Sports Facility, inviting bustling crowds and booths showcasing local brands and recreational opportunities.

Campus is attempting to create the same atmosphere this year with the in-person event, though most of the festivities will take place outdoors in the main entrance and on the back patio, and the Gaming Expo will not take place, according to Viemeister.

Caltopia will continue to be dependent on public health guidance, according to the Rec Sports website, and Viemeister similarly noted that the state of all in-person engagement opportunities — including those during orientation — will be contingent on the state of the pandemic.

Compared to the other two events, GBO will be a hybrid of online and in-person instruction. According to the UC Berkeley GBO website, the program is an opportunity for students to connect with the Berkeley student community and transition to life at UC Berkeley.

Though in-person interaction during orientation will be limited to optional small groups, a number of community-building activities and other student resources will be provided. Most of the virtual programs will be recorded and accessible to students, Viemeister noted.

GBO orientation leader Ben Pierias noted that meals, late-night events and group activities will be mostly held in person. However, the majority of events — including the Resources Fair and Affinity Spaces program — will take place virtually.

Viemeister downplayed worries about a potential drop in student participation due to the festivities being held online, as she noted the combined 7,100 participants in the virtual Calapalooza and Caltopia in fall 2020.

“Our main objective is that our range of offerings—both in-person and virtual—will make it possible for many students to get oriented to campus and create meaningful community connections with one another in a way that feels most comfortable to them,” Viemeister said in an email.

Contact Lianna Leung at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @LeungLianna.