Some UC Berkeley students arriving on campus have struggled to receive their Cal 1 and Clipper cards from campus, adding unexpected inconveniences to their return.
The Cal 1 card provides key access to everything from campus buildings to dining halls while the Clipper card allows students to ride Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, or AC Transit, buses for free. With COVID-19 having impacted the typical time frames for card distribution, students on social media have reported waiting in long lines with no success and having few available appointments to pick up their cards.
“We realize that the irregularly high volume of students still needing their cards is currently making both flex appointments and our virtual kiosk line more difficult than ever before,” said campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff in an email.
Due to COVID-19, the Cal 1 Card office has to provide Cal 1 and Clipper cards for two classes — incoming freshmen and incoming sophomores who did not receive cards during the pandemic — along with campus employees and other affiliates. Between March and August of this year, the Cal 1 Card office issued 3,800 cards to students through various means, according to Ratliff.
Students can receive their Cal 1 cards by joining a virtual kiosk line or making a Flex appointment, according to a campus website. Appointment slots tend to close quickly during the start of the semester and virtual kiosk lines have closed within 5-15 minutes this past week, according to Ratliff.
Campus sophomore Shreya Aviri said she has been waking up at 9 a.m. daily for the virtual kiosk line but has been unsuccessful in getting an appointment.
“Not having my card and clipper is very painful because I don’t get to use the AC transit for free and these fees stack up,” Aviri said in an email.
About 6,500 incoming undergraduate students received their cards during Aug. 16-18, along with more than 500 Berkeley extension students who got their cards from extension representatives. Additionally, more than 2000 commuter students were eligible to get their cards at Golden Bear Orientation check-in tables from Aug. 16-20, Ratliff added.
According to Lysa Hale, Manager of Clipper Customer Service, nearly 27,500 Clipper cards were used by the campus community at least once in the 2018-2019 school year.
Campus sophomore Arabella Tan, who returned to campus after taking two gap years, had a different experience compared to some students since she was able to continue using her Cal 1 and Clipper cards.
“There seems to be a general impatience in regards to how (the) administration has been handling Cal 1 cards and other things,” Tan said. “I think it’s worth taking a grain of salt that things are going to take time, especially with so many students returning.”