It’s no secret that UC Berkeley’s student body is comprised of a plethora of people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Being around so many people of so many different cultures is a unique and thrilling experience that I certainly never had in high school. That said, after enrolling as a student at Cal and seeing all the amazing opportunities to engage in cultural exploration, I decided to take a leap of faith and join the Pilipino American Alliance’s production of the 40th annual Pilipino Cultural Night.
Earlier this week, I attended the Star Party with Professor Filippenko, hosted by the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholars Association’s Faculty Committee. In a span of one and a half hours, we got to gaze at stars, planets, and nebula, and talk about fascinating stuff! A large, high-power telescope was focused on the Orion Nebula, and we could see four bright dots in a diamond shape clustered in the center of the bluish cloud of gas and dust, adjacent to Orion’s belt. Professor Filippenko mentioned that it takes a million years for the stars to form out of the particles in the nebula, and each of the bright dots we saw formed at different points in time.
UC Berkeley faculty are amazing. Not only are they world-renowned scholars, literary geniuses, and creative innovators, they also have incredible heart and enthusiasm for their students, teaching, and research. Whether in class, during office hours, at faculty-student events, or even around campus, interacting with UC Berkeley professors is a vibrant, memorable experience.
Although it’s been a year and a half since I’ve taken Chem 3B with Professor Pedersen, I still remember how he made organic chemistry seem practical and pertinent to everyday life with his “molecule of the day” examples, and how he inspired us with a clip from Pocahontas on the final day of class and told us we could change the world. I remember eating dinner with Professor Schekman my freshman year (two years before he won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine) in the Foothill dining commons and asking him what he found intriguing about biology. I also remember my excitement when learning about the longitudinal studies on facial expressions and positive emotionality in Psych 156 (Psychology of Human Emotion) with Professor Keltner.
Dead Week is a time to really buckle down and put one’s nose to the grindstone as we complete our final stretch of the spring semester here at UC Berkeley. One aspect of this infamous week that is often overlooked, however, is the fact that a week with no classes provides our student groups with ample opportunity to host their end of semester banquets and outings. Greek life is no exception.
Just this past weekend, my fraternity has hosted our semesterly date night by sailing on a yacht in the San Francisco Bay, competed an afternoon long “Olympic Games” with local fraternity alumni, and hosted our always highly anticipated end of year banquet at San Francisco’s famous House of Prime Rib. This restaurant was where our fraternity was re-chartered in the year 2004, and ever since then it has been a tradition to wrap up our year in what I suppose is the most appropriate way possible: by shoving our faces with endless amounts of food.
In my three years here at Cal, I’ve learned that college students are drawn to events by three things: a lively conversation, free food, and free alcohol (assuming that you are over the age of 21, of course). So, when my Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) for my Wealth & Poverty class invited us to a debate concerning the contentious “Stand Your Ground” law where free food and beers would be provided, my friends and I knew we had to be counted in.
The debate was put on by a student organization, Blacks in Public Policy, or BIPP. Stemming out of Berkeley’s prestigious Goldman School of Public Policy, BIPP seeks to bring the community together in discussing issues specifically related to the Black community. In the aftermath of State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman, BIPP sought to start a conversation with the local community on the often contentious issue of whether or not Stand Your Ground is a “fundamentally sound policy that protects the innocent.”
If any of you have been to campus the last two weeks, you may have noticed Sproul Plaza to be a little more active than usual (well, for us at least). Dance groups performing on the steps, a UAW strike, and of course, the ever-traditional two week period that is “hard campaigning” for ASUC elections.
The ASUC (Associated Students of the University of California) truly is not like any other student government in the country. For one thing, the ASUC is completely separate from any administrative control, giving the elected officials complete autonomy on taking any stance they see fit on particular issues. Through the ASUC, momentous pieces of legislation have been passed that have truly impacted students’ lives throughout the decades: the divestment of UC funds from South African apartheid, the first 24/7 study space on campus, $10 gym memberships, textbook scholarship programs, and even our bus passes for the AC Transit system have all come out of the ASUC and the efforts of students.
One of my favorite things about Berkeley is that there are an endless number of amazing events that I can attend. When I was a freshman at Berkeley, I suffered massive FOMO (fear of missing out), but I’ve learned to overcome that feeling after realizing that it was just an aspect of Berkeley that I had to accept and love.
This event spiced up my Tuesday afternoon and made it a whole lot more interesting. Every college student has a TV show (or shows) that they worship, and one of my favorite TV shows of all time is Suits. You can probably tell I was ecstatic when Suits announced that it was undertaking a college tour, and I was even more ecstatic when UC Berkeley SUPERB announced it would host the tour at the California theatre. Many of my friends are also avid Suits fans, so I expected February 4th to be a party.
Before walking onto Sproul Plaza for the first time, I remember the stories I have heard. I’ve heard how the open space transitioning students from the busy, urban bustle of Berkeley to the peaceful setting of campus has always been the epicenter all things Cal. I knew that it was the place to go if I were looking to get involved in clubs and a variety of extracurricular activities. But most of all, I have heard that it is nearly impossible to walk through Sproul Plaza without being offered at least one flier. As a naïve freshman, I must admit that I did not take this seriously. How is it possible to be fliered (Yes, we Bears know that “fliered” is not an actual verb. Yes, it is still frequently used.) nearly every day?