Return to in-person: Cal Day over the years

Photo of Cal Day
Amanda Ramirez/Senior Staff

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On April 23, UC Berkeley will be hosting an in-person Cal Day for the first time in two years. The day packed with in-person events will be held for newly admitted students and their families, giving them the opportunity to get to know their new campus.

Established in 1968 as a one-time open house, Cal Day proved to be a massive success and has served as an annual open house for new admits, alumni and current students. Its purpose is to give them the opportunity to enjoy a once-a-year celebration of arts, sciences and music. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 40,000 people would attend Cal Day annually, as reported by campus’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

In 2019, visitors saw a change in the goal of UC Berkeley’s 26th annual celebration, for the day was solely devoted to newly admitted students. More than 450 different events — ranging from lectures, exhibits, tours and performances — were hosted throughout campus in indoor and outdoor settings. Once registered, the newly admitted were given the opportunity to see campus’s academics, opportunities and communities. For one day out of the year, Cal Day 2019 offered newly admitted students a chance to make their decisions.

“We really tried to create a series of events and experiences that would make sure our newly admitted students and their families feel extra special,” said La Dawn Duvall, executive director of Visitor and Parent Services at campus’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs. “Now, that’s exactly what we’re doing in a more pronounced way — by having this day be for them only.”

This year’s events will begin with opening remarks by campus Chancellor Carol Christ, ASUC President Chaka Tellem and campus leadership at California Memorial Stadium at 8 a.m. Student-run nonprofit entertainment organization ASUC Superb announced Raveena and bLAck pARty will bring the day to a close at the Cal Day Concert hosted on Memorial Glade. With tents sprawled throughout campus, schools, departments and the residence halls, the day will be an opportunity for campus to showcase all it has to offer, according to Duvall.

New admits and their families will have the opportunity to engage with information sessions on campus and talk to the campus community about their interests — something that was difficult to do when Cal Day was virtualized. From events held on Memorial Glade to the ASUC Superb Cal Day concert, it will be a “perfect opportunity” for people to familiarize themselves with campus people to familiarize themselves with campus and “hopefully find a place for themselves,” Duvall added.
Campus’s current mask guidelines will be highly recommended but not required, making donning masks indoors encouraged and outdoor mask-wearing optional. Changes will be made in accordance with health and safety measures by campus, state and national requirements, Duvall said.

However, as current guidelines stand, Cal Day 2022 will give campus the opportunity to welcome people in person. Unlike in previous years, there will be very few indoor events: The only exception will be tours exploring campus buildings.

“We’re not having the large amount of indoor events this year that we’ve had in the past,” Duvall said. “We want to take that extra precaution in regards to health and safety.”

Cal Day 2020 preparations had been in the works when campus was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, it was replaced with Cal Week, a virtual open house. In 2021, Cal Day was entirely virtual. Scheduled addresses by Christ, former ASUC president Victoria Vera and campus molecular biology and biochemistry professor Jennifer Doudna were held. The day concluded with a virtual concert hosted by ASUC Superb, featuring Japanese Breakfast and Rina Sawayama.

Only newly admitted students and their families will receive information about this year’s schedule of events through their admissions portal. Roughly 5,500 registered students attended Cal Day 2019; this year, accounting for newly admitted students and their families, Duvall estimated that the attendance will near 9,000.

For those unable to attend this year’s event, a virtual Cal Week will take place April 25-29. Newly admitted students will have the opportunity to engage with and explore campus resources, departments and community members through interactive online options.

As it currently stands, Cal Day 2022 will serve as a return to normalcy by showcasing what campus has to offer in person after three years.

“I’m really excited that the campus is coming together in a way to bring a successful 2022 Cal Day,” Duvall said. “We’re happy that we’re at a place where we can open the campus and invite folks to come in and visit us in person.”

Maya Banuelos is a deputy social media editor. Contact her at [email protected]