We write to extend a warm welcome to all of our new and returning Golden Bears. We are so excited to welcome so many of you back to Berkeley and neighboring communities. You join us at a challenging moment in our nation’s history, and we hope you are excited to embark on a new year of learning, discovery and personal growth as students at the very best public university in the world.
Berkeley is a wonderfully diverse city — home to a rich history of political activism and an astounding array of intellectual, cultural, artistic and recreational activities. We encourage you to safely explore the many opportunities the community and campus have to offer and to do so in a way that is respectful to all of us who call Berkeley home.
We especially want to thank our returning students who have been on campus throughout the pandemic, taking COVID-19 safety measures seriously and encouraging others to do so. Now, in the opening days of the fall semester, it has been wonderful to see new students displaying that same conscientiousness.
As you explore our community or return to favorite attractions, we would like to share a few thoughts and recommendations with you:
Keep your community healthy.
Taking steps to safeguard your health and that of others has never been more important. We encourage you to keep up with the public health guidelines the city and campus develop to keep everyone healthy as this unprecedented pandemic continues. The city of Berkeley’s COVID-19 mandatory public health orders require face coverings when indoors with limited exceptions, as well as proof of vaccination inside places serving food/drink, or gyms, among other businesses, beginning on September 10.
On campus, face coverings are required indoors and are optional outdoors. Students are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or request an exemption, and we want to thank students for their cooperation and for helping us reduce virus transmission.
Be a good neighbor.
Take the time to meet your neighbors. You can safely get to know them through a masked and distanced encounter, a note or an email. Some of your Berkeley neighbors remain at higher risk during the pandemic. You can help keep them safe by understanding their needs and expectations. The Happy Neighbors program can help.
Support local businesses, respect their service.
When you safely venture out with your face covering, or when you order in, please consider supporting Berkeley’s diverse small businesses. The neighborhoods adjacent to campus — such as the Telegraph District and Downtown Berkeley — are home to dozens of businesses that have carefully adapted to public health requirements and eagerly await your patronage. We ask that you remember to be kind and patient to those behind the counter and at the register. It is still a challenging time, so let’s be considerate of their health and respectful of their service.
Be an engaged citizen.
Ahead of the 2022 mid-term election cycle, register to vote here or in your home state. Berkeley is engaging in a once-in-a-decade redistricting process that will redraw City Council district boundaries. Input from our student residents is essential to this process. And don’t miss the chance to get involved in your local community — try attending virtual meetings of the City Council and other boards and commissions, or volunteer through The Berkeley Project or the Public Service Center.
Learn about the area’s rich past and its connection to the present.
You have probably learned that UC Berkeley sits on land that was originally inhabited by the Ohlone, the Native American people who remain indigenous to this area. Put on your mask and head north to visit Mortar Rock Park to see the acorn-grinding pits carved into solid rock by the ancestors of the local Ohlone people. Closer to campus, use the Telegraph Berkeley Tour app to hear Berkeley residents talk about civil rights “shop-ins,” the disability rights movement, Japanese internment during World War II, the Free Speech Movement and more of our shared history.
Go green — think sustainably.
While the health of our community remains a priority, as members of campus and Berkeley residents, we must also think and act sustainably. UC Berkeley and the city have ambitious zero waste goals: Your help in diverting, recycling, reusing and reducing during the pandemic is critical. Talk to your roommates about reducing waste: Ecology Center has tips for low-waste living, and Student Environmental Resource Center has resources to help you achieve sustainability goals while seeking a more equitable, just and resilient future.
Work with others to keep yourself and your community safe.
Berkeley is not free from crime, but you can reduce risk by planning ahead and being aware of your surroundings. At night, travel in groups, along main thoroughfares and keep your electronics out of sight. Campus operates night safety services such as BearWALK, night safety shuttles and door-to-door rides. If you see something suspicious, call the nonemergency number for UCPD at (510) 642-3333 or the Berkeley Police Department at (510) 981-5900. In an emergency, call 911, or from a cell phone, call (510) 981-5911.
Living in Berkeley gives you the chance to interact with a wonderfully diverse population, to take advantage of countless resources and opportunities and to gain perspectives and skills that will serve you well after college. Let’s embrace all that the city of Berkeley has to offer and do our part to keep the Berkeley community healthy and vibrant. Here’s to a safe semester, and go Bears!
Carol Christ is the UC Berkeley chancellor, and Jesse Arreguín is the Berkeley mayor.