Before coming to Cal, my mom was like almost every other mom, stressing about my safety while I’m away. This is a completely normal reaction! However, I have felt safe almost always at Berkeley and whenever I didn’t, there were a plethora of resources that were able to support me. You may be going through the same worries that my mom had before I came to campus. So, I want to share with you the realities and expectations of safety at Cal in order to reassure you that safety is taken seriously on campus.
It’s not shameful to say that sometimes we may feel nervous about certain situations. It’s an inherent part of human nature that is ingrained in our psyches for our own survival. You’re allowed to feel emotions, and Cal recognizes that fact. No matter what the details are, Cal focuses on student safety as their number one priority. We’ll start off looking at safety from a broad perspective and then delve into the specific safety programs Berkeley offers.
The University of California Police Department is our campus PD that works to protect activities occurring specifically on campus. We also have the Berkeley Police Department to respond to city activities and protect the overall city residents. We have blue light poles around campus that allow students to call UCPD at the press of a button. You’ll never forget the number for these resources as they’re all listed on the back of each student’s CalID card. This card allows students to access buildings like dining halls and their individual dorm buildings. You can also utilize CalTip, the anonymous text service where you can report non-emergencies.
In my experience, my dorm was my ultimate safe space which was made to be that way from the three-point security checkpoint system each dorm has. You first have to scan your CalID at the door to your dorm. Only students actually living in your building will be able to scan their ID and have the door open, otherwise, a friend must come down and let a guest in. At night, there are student security guards at the front desk and you must scan your ID card again to check-in. If you are checking in a guest in the night, you must sign them in and agree to be responsible for this guest. I liked this because it made students think twice about inviting just anyone into their building. Then you have to scan again to get into the stairwell or elevator. Finally, you have keys that only you and your roommate have. You can’t duplicate the key in order to ensure this. I’ve always felt safe within my building, knowing that everyone there is supposed to be there.
I was once studying with my friend in Unit 3 and I needed to go back to Unit 1 at night. I was able to walk right across the street to a blue light pole where the Bear Transit Safety Shuttle picked me and some other students up and stopped right at my dorm. I had to show the driver my CalID before getting on in order to verify that I was a student.
Of course, a lot of universities have resources like shuttles, but something unique to Berkeley is BearWalk, the service in which you can request a student security worker donned in yellow to personally walk you back home at night. I used this service twice. Not because I was feeling particularly unsafe, but I was curious to see what it would be like. I was able to request the service online and met my BearWalk security officer outside the building. He was a student who was working this job and looked official in his bright yellow shirt. We walked and had a pleasant conversation. Overall, I enjoyed the service and was thankful Berkeley offered this unique experience to be accompanied home and make a new friend!
Of course, these aren’t the only safety options you have. You can learn more here. My mom was pleased to hear from my experiences that Berkeley was a welcoming city and Cal offered so many safety resources to utilize! Never feel guilty about being uncertain or nervous, but instead, have faith in the services Berkeley offers and take full advantage of the support we have here.
If you have any questions about anything at all, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and a Campus Ambassador like me will get back to you!