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Best of Berkeley: Campus 2023

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APRIL 30, 2023

Best building: VLSB

(Aileen Park/Staff)

Not all buildings on campus give off a sense of importance in the same way that the Valley Life Sciences Building does. 

Its iconic 1926 Neo-Babylonian design gives it a sense of grandeur that inspires awe by any college student walking through those wrought iron doors. With art deco friezes on the sides, the sense of ancient wonder matches the interior’s enigmatic elements. The main interior attraction is Osborne, the Tyrannosaurus rex which holds court in the center of the building. 

The Marian Koshland Bioscience & Natural Resources Library has an endless amount of hidden nooks and crannies which are perfect for tucking yourself away into for endless hours of studying. The collection of ancient microscopes that fill the cabinets of the hallways trace the history of scientific innovation. 

If you are ever bored during the day, you can always check out the five museums inside the halls.  

— Ray Wymer

Best library: East Asian Library

(Hsi-Min Chan/Senior Staff)

If you’re out hunting for a study space to cram for your midterms or finals, looking for a nice place to do some reading or preparing to write a paper, look no further than the C. V. Starr East Asian Library.

Overlooking the Memorial Glade and the Campanile, the East Asian Library has beautifully crafted bronze architecture on its outside and is equally as gorgeous on the inside. With study spaces on every floor and books in all languages across East Asia, the library remains on the Daily Cal’s Best of Berkeley for two years running — an impressive feat considering there are almost 30 libraries on campus. 

Although the East Asian Library isn’t open as late as other common and popular libraries on campus, with big open windows only letting in soft natural light within the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s the perfect place for some quiet study time in between classes — a nice respite from the demands of the day.

— Lucia Umeki Martinez

Best professor: Alexander Paulin

Headshot of Alexander Paulin.
(Kyle Garcia Takata/Senior Staff)

At a school as large as UC Berkeley, lower-division STEM classes are notorious for being gratuitously difficult and absolutely impersonal. Alexander Paulin is an exception — teaching massive introductory classes such as calculus and linear algebra, the math department lecturer exemplifies the kind of teaching that often feels difficult to find.

With his daily office hours and dynamic stage presence, Paulin is as approachable as he is invested in his students’ success. A recipient of campus’s 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award, Paulin possesses an infectious energy, as he creates an environment where students are motivated to learn. His lecturing style is distinct — with lessons often spanning over multiple lectures, he practically crafts a narrative, aptly transforming complex and grueling calculations into logical steps and related concepts. While his exams are known for being conceptually rigorous, they’re also rewarding; his deft summarization leaves students with a strong foundation that serves them well in the future. 

— Riya Chopra

Best NCAA women’s athlete: Camryn Rogers

Photo of Camryn Rogers.
(Al Sermeno/Courtesy)

Competing with Cal track and field until the start of 2023, Camryn Rogers was an integral part of the blue and gold’s throwers. Rogers is not only a seasoned athlete and competitor, but also an Olympian and world silver medalist. 

Representing Canada at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Rogers came in fifth in the hammer throw — an impressive feat, especially considering that she was competing at the collegiate level at the same time. 

Rogers joined Cal in 2018, competing in three meets in her first indoor season with the blue and gold. Making waves in the track and field world straight away, Rogers posted solid results, finishing third in the weight throw at the MPSF Indoor Track & Field championships. 

This year, Rogers earned the world record for farthest throw of 2023 with a massive 77.84m  — a record she set in April. 

Adding to a long list of accolades, Rogers also holds the NCAA championship record for the hammer throw in the outdoor championships with 77.67m , a record she set in 2022. That result also earned Rogers her third straight NCAA hammer throw championship and the ninth-best result in the world, of all time, for the event. 

A dedicated athlete representing the blue and gold as well as her home country of Canada, Rogers represents the best Berkeley has to offer. Now representing Canada in her athletic endeavors, Rogers is certainly one to watch for years to come. 

— Maria Kholodova

Best NCAA men’s athlete: Nikolaos Papanikolaou

Headshot of Nikolaos Papanikolaou.
(Anita Liu/Staff)

Cheers of “Papa” ring from Spieker Aquatics Complex after every offensive maneuver, every point scored and every ball chucked at the opposing team’s floating goal. These cheers resound after the unparalleled athletic majesty presented by Cal’s resident Greek men’s water polo center Nikolaos Papanikolaou. 

The 2021 and 2022 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year, a two-time ACWPC First Team All-American and a key actor in bringing the Bears to back-to-back NCAA championships, Papanikolaou is a rare talent with even rarer drive. Standing — or swimming — as the fifth-top scorer in Cal history with 210 goals and one of the highest GPAs on his team, Papanikolaou’s teammates also commend him on his leadership and stalwart value in and out of the pool. 

Humble, hardworking and able to deliver blurring handballs, Papa is a fixture of Cal Athletics whose legacy will last for years beyond his departure.

— Katherine Shok

Best performance group: Cal Band

Photo of Cal Band from behind.
(Defne Karabatur/Senior Staff)

It’s game day. You’ve been up since 8 a.m. Your friends are on their way over to meet up for the day-long festivities. Sure, your get-ready playlist is perfectly crafted, all songs you adore in a vain attempt to rally just an ounce of energy after a long week of studying. The music of every tailgate on Piedmont Avenue chaotically blends into a cacophony of noise. Somehow, “Doses & Mimosas” and “No Hands” aren’t what you’re looking for right now. 

But you know what is — Cal Band. 

The second you hear the soaring trumpet melody lines and rhythmic dictations of the percussion, your game day is completely elevated. From the Cal fight song to “Crazy in Love,” Drake to Lady Gaga, Cal Band has everything you could ever want musically. 

Since its founding in 1891, the University of California Marching Band has been the musical epitome of school spirit. Decked out in blue and gold, the elite 200 members of the Cal Band bring a tangible sense of joy to Berkeley’s campus with every performance. The Pride of California welcomes each and every Berkeley community member with open arms and heavenly instrumentation at every football game, pep rally, and major school event. 

Cal Band is yet another reason to love UC Berkeley. For me, the band has been a foundational part of my game day experiences over the past three years.

— Kelsey McIvor Tingle

Best DeCal: UC Hogwarts: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

A photo of a group in a classroom.
(UC Hogwarts: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter/Courtesy)

Open to all passionate Potterheads, hesitant newcomers to the Wizarding World, and those that fall somewhere in between, “UC Hogwarts: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is this year’s Best of Berkeley DeCal. In the course, within the cozy confines of a classroom in Dwinelle Hall, students explore J. K. Rowling’s masterpiece of a series through engaging book discussions and playful themed activities.

Wands are made, the history of magic is learned, potions are concocted, quidditch is played, characters are analyzed, horcruxes are determined, prefects are elected, and plot holes are identified. Most classes include a lecture conducted by one of the DeCal’s facilitators which covers an interesting topic or issue brought about by the series, such as social hierarchies and discrimination, mental health, corruption in government, fierce fantasy fandoms and the societal significance of children’s literature.

Also, at the beginning of the semester, upon admission into UC Hogwarts, students are separated into different houses. The identity of these houses — Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin — is revealed on the last day. Houses help to foster a lightheartedly competitive spirit and to cultivate a strong sense of community for the course — a community that persists even outside of the classroom’s Dumble-door.

— Jessie Fisher

Best lecture hall: Wheeler 150

A photo of a lecture hall.
(Agodi Okoroafor/Staff)

Oh, Wheeler 150. Hallowed hall of higher education. Who could forget those huge and heavy dark wood doors, sliding slowly open to reveal the intricate paneling and velvet curtains, its heart within? Those conic lights lining each side of the room casting pale spheres of light above like the cool ice of a snow globe. 

The charming, vaguely wedge-shaped plastic desks which swing satisfyingly up from the right arm rests. The omnipresent chill of the air conditioning working silently from above. The strange trumping carved wood flowers hanging from the craftsman crossbeams, framing the dim illumination of the square skylights set into the ceiling. 

I have fallen asleep many times in Wheeler 150 this semester, each accidental nap as unsatisfying and anxiety-inducing as the next (I take this as an indicator of my comfort in the plush blue upholstery of the seats and of the effects of Jim Campbell’s familiar pleasing lilting voice). But I have also gained so much understanding in Wheeler 150: Monopolies, utilities, game theories and a great deal in between. Every time I’ve left Wheeler 150 I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer thrill of learning, the sheer gratitude of getting to be here. 

Truly, this lecture hall is a hall of dreams. 

— Karissa Ho

Best bathroom: Haas

Men's bathroom sign.
(Hugo Kwok/Staff)

For many prospective entrepreneurs and tycoons, the Haas School of Business offers a world-renowned education for those who want to learn the art of conducting business. But for the rest of us, Haas is home to the best bathrooms on campus, bathrooms that let you conduct your business whenever nature calls.

While many campus bathrooms suffer from the hustle and bustle of the Berkeley grindset, Haas bathrooms offer a moment of serenity for those who need a break. Lined with soothing leaf green and cream linoleum tiles, Haas bathrooms are always ripe with the smell of air freshener and windex. Each Haas toilet comes with state of the art water pressure, to flush down what nobody wants to look at, as well as an attached Sanor System to eliminate odors and bacteria that accumulates in public restrooms. 

Though located out of the way from the main hubs of campus, the isolated nature of Haas’s bathrooms allows many students the opportunity to handle their business by themselves, without the anxiety of someone knocking on the bathroom stall door. If you are sick and tired of busy bathrooms at Moffitt and can’t handle the indescribable chaos of the Dwinelle urinals, take a stroll up to Haas and run a test for yourself!

— Kenzo Fukuda

Contact Maria Khan at 


MAY 15, 2023