We write with a warm welcome to our new and returning Golden Bears as you settle into Berkeley and neighboring communities. We hope you are excited to embark on a year of learning, discovery and personal growth 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 explore the many opportunities the community and campus offer and to do so in a way that is respectful to all who call Berkeley home.
Before we share recommendations, we want to reiterate the campus and city’s joint commitment to constructing urgently needed housing for both students and formerly unhoused people on the People’s Park site, while providing a significant amount of open space. We are grateful that Cal students support the project by a two-to-one margin according to a recent survey, and we greatly appreciate the support from the City Council, our neighbors, local churches and professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping unhoused people. However, some who are opposed to the project have illegally occupied the site, preventing the construction of much-needed housing. The chancellor’s recent message provided details on the status of the project and the state of the construction site. For now, we have increased public safety patrols in the area and urge people to avoid the site.
Stay healthy and 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 as this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic continues. Indoor mask wearing is strongly recommended and being up to date with vaccines/boosters is required on campus. Staying vigilant and self-assessing symptoms and testing when symptomatic or pre-and-post higher-risk activities remain valuable tools to slow the spread. While monkeypox remains a low risk to the general public, activities such as sex with multiple partners and prolonged skin-to-skin contact significantly increase risk. Read CDC guidelines to understand the symptoms and minimize your risk.
Be a good neighbor
Take time to meet your neighbors. You can safely get to know them through an outdoor, masked or distanced encounter; or a note, text or 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. Additionally, make smart and respectful choices concerning noise and parties — respect your neighbors’ schedules and city ordinances with programs such as The Happy Neighbors.
Support local businesses, respect their service
When you safely venture out, 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 adapted to public health requirements and eagerly await your patronage. It remains a challenging time, so let’s be considerate of their health and respectful of their service.
Be an engaged citizen
Ahead of the 2022 midterm election cycle, register to vote here or in your home state. Also, 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. During your time at UC Berkeley, you can also volunteer through The Berkeley Project or the Public Service Center.
Learn about the area’s rich past — and connection to the present
UC Berkeley sits on land originally inhabited by the Ohlone. Head north to visit Mortar Rock Park to see the acorn-grinding pits carved into solid rock by the ancestors of the Ohlone people, then stop by Ohlone Park, which is home to a four-sided mural, celebrating Indigenous culture. Visit ‘oṭṭoy, a collaboration between Café Ohlone and the Hearst Museum, set to open Sept. 1. Next, use the Telegraph Berkeley Tour app to learn 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
UC Berkeley and the city have ambitious zero-waste goals: Your help in diverting, recycling, reusing and reducing is critical. Talk to your roommates about reducing waste: the Ecology Center has tips for low-waste living, and the Student Environmental Resource Center can help you meet your sustainability goals while seeking a more equitable, just and resilient future. Check out the plant-based menu from Cal Dining to lower your carbon footprint, and enroll in one of Berkeley’s 800 sustainability-focused courses.
Plan ahead to keep yourself and your community safe
Berkeley is not free from crime. Reduce risk by planning ahead and being aware of your surroundings. At night, travel in groups along main thoroughfares and keep electronics out of sight. Use campus night safety services like BearWALK, night safety shuttles and door-to-door rides. If you see something suspicious, call nonemergency numbers: UCPD (510) 642-3333; Berkeley PD (510) 981-5900. In an emergency, call 911; from a mobile, text-to-911 or call (510) 981-5911.
Living in Berkeley gives you the chance to interact with a wonderfully diverse population, take advantage of countless resources and opportunities and gain perspectives and skills that will serve you well after college. Let’s embrace all that Berkeley offers and — and keep the Berkeley community healthy and vibrant. Here’s to a safe semester, and go Bears!