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2023 welcome from Chancellor Carol Christ, Mayor Jesse Arreguín

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SEPTEMBER 13, 2023

We welcome 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 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. 

As mayor and chancellor, we are proud of the ways the city and campus partner to make our community better. Through an agreement that is aligned with the campus’s 2021 Long Range Development Plan, we invest roughly $1.3 million annually to improve conditions in the neighborhoods adjacent to campus. Recently, the city and campus have worked together to meet the needs of unhoused community members in the Telegraph neighborhood. The campus’s homeless outreach coordinator has worked with city, church and nonprofit partners to help more than 100 individuals secure permanent supportive housing. We also established the Sacred Rest Daytime Drop-in Center. 

While construction of urgently needed student housing has been paused at People’s Park, our support remains strong. Upon completion, nearly two-thirds of the site will be preserved as open green space. There will be two new housing facilities — one for students and one for extremely low-income Berkeley community members — and a new commemoration of the park’s legacy. In short, it is a win-win-win for students, unhoused community members and the city as a whole. We look forward to a renewal of work on the site as soon as legal issues are resolved.

In this spirit of collaboration, 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.

Take time to meet your neighbors, make smart and respectful choices concerning noise and parties — stick with Berkeley’s quiet hours (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) — and respect your neighbors’ schedules and city ordinances with programs such as Happy Neighbors. The Dean of Students also has tips for being a good neighbor while living off campus.

Learn about the area’s rich past — and connection to the present. UC Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun (Huichin), the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people, the successors of the historic and sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. Support ‘oṭṭoy, a collaboration between Café Ohlone and the Hearst Museum, set to reopen in October, and check out the campus land acknowledgement page. Then head north to visit Mortar Rock Park to see the acorn-grinding pits carved into solid rock by the ancestors of the Ohlone people. Also stop by Ohlone Park, which is home to a four-sided mural celebrating Indigenous culture. 

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. Visit the Berkeley Historical Society to dig even deeper.

When you venture out or when you order in, please consider supporting Berkeley’s small businesses. The neighborhoods adjacent to campus such as the Telegraph Avenue and Downtown Berkeley are home to dozens of establishments that eagerly await your patronage.

No matter where your Berkeley adventure takes you, act sustainably: divert, recycle, reuse and reduce. UC Berkeley and the city have ambitious zero-waste goals, and your help is critical. Talk to your roommates about waste reduction: the campus 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 nearly 800 sustainability-focused courses.

The 2024 presidential primaries are coming, so make sure your vote is counted. Register to vote in California or in your home state at vote.org. Also, get involved in your local community by participating in city council or commission meetings. Check out the  City/UC/Student Relations Committee where ASUC and Graduate Assembly leaders and four city council members convene to address issues of mutual concern. Volunteer through the Berkeley Project or the Public Service Center.

Finally, plan ahead to keep yourself and your community safe. You can reduce risk by making a plan 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 such as BearWALK, night safety shuttles and door-to-door rides. 

If you see something suspicious, call nonemergency numbers: UCPD at 510-642-3333 and  Berkeley police at 510-981-5900. In an emergency, call 911, text-to-911 or call 510-981-5911. Visit our campus safety website, the Chancellor’s Independent Advisory Board on Police Accountability and Community Safety, the Office for Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination and more to learn more about community safety planning. 

Let’s embrace all that Berkeley offers: our wonderfully diverse population, countless resources and opportunities to gain perspectives and skills that will serve well after college. Keep the Berkeley community vibrant, healthy and safe. Here’s to an inspired semester, and go Bears!

Carol Christ is the UC Berkeley chancellor, and Jesse Arreguín is the Berkeley mayor. Contact the Opinion Desk at [email protected]

SEPTEMBER 14, 2023