Just last week, on Monday, March 23, Cal celebrated its 147th birthday, 147 years since the 1868 founding of the University of California. As a student attending Cal in the 2010s, I’ve found I often see Cal and my daily adventures through my 21st century eyes, through the challenges and characteristics that distinguish Cal in its current, vibrant form. But Cal’s recent birthday has gotten me to thinking more about the many thousands of students who have come before me, and all of the adventures they experienced at a Cal that was very different from what it is today.
Cal started with a small collection of students, and an even smaller sample of majors.Today, in 2015, the campus boasts over 100 majors, 1,100 student groups, and close to 36,000 students. This campus has also been witness to some of modern history’s biggest events, such as the Free Speech Movement, which is special to this campus because this is where it all began, in the Fall of 1964, 50 years ago. It’s exciting to me to see how Cal has changed over the years, and to celebrate Cal today, based on both its historic moments and as well as what it represents and exemplifies today.
During Charter Week, my UC Rally Committee peers and I put on a series of events to bring disparate campus communities together in celebration of Cal’s storied history. We organized a scavenger hunt, hosted a Cal-themed trivia night, and held a penny wars competition on Sproul Plaza. As this was the first year we held this Charter Week Challenge, we were happy to get 10 student groups to perform. But even more exciting was that these groups came from all different areas of campus – the Greek system, engineering clubs, and Berkeley Hillel, to name a few. It was great to celebrate Cal with so many different people from all walks of campus life, who all walk the same campus grounds, but see the campus through such different eyes.
Amidst my daily lectures, extracurricular activities, and multiple cups of coffee, I’ve often felt the challenge of trying to balance all of these responsibilities. Something I’ve been trying to do more and more is to stop and take at least a few moments each day to appreciate this wonderful institution. There’s so much rich history and culture at UC Berkeley, and I’m striving to never take for granted how fortunate I am to be walk the campus’ hallowed grounds, learn from some of the most distinguished professors in their fields, and surround myself with bright, intelligent peers, at an place so rich in history and traditions.
So happy birthday Cal! May your Sproul Plaza never be silent, may we never cease celebrating your rich history, and may your glades stay forever golden.