Eyes are bleared, coffee supplies are depleted, fingers are cramped from typing all semester, and professors have collected course evaluations. Ah, it must be RRR week. RRR formally stands for “Reading, Review, and Recitation” week, but sometimes, it feels a lot more like “Rejoice (that winter break is close), Relax (and binge-watch Netflix), and Realize (how much work is left to be done).” To some, RRR week is a blessing, a break coming at the right moment. To others, it’s an ominous reminder of all the work still to be done.
In the next week, the Cal campus will be buzzing with preparations for the Big Game, our annual football contest against our rivals from across the Bay (Stanford). After a week of excitement leading up to the game, fans from both sides will fill California Memorial Stadium on Saturday, November 22, the red on one side, the blue and gold on the other, awaiting the game ahead.
But as a junior here at Cal, about to embark on my third Big Game Week experience, I’ve come to realize how much more this week represents. Yes, it’s about watching our Golden Bears take the field with the hopes of vanquishing the ‘Furd, but it’s also about history, spirit, and tradition, all in celebration of our incredible university.
As a relative “foodie” and someone who tries to buy local, organic foods, I thought I knew a thing or two about the food production and food systems that shape the current day. However, a course I am taking this semester, Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM) 155: Sustenance and Sustainability: the Social and Political Ecology of Agro-Food Systems, has challenged me to delve deeper into issues of food production, food security, and food justice.
This course has motivated me to think more deeply about what constitutes “organic” and “sustainable,” both in definition and in practice. It has allowed me to learn much of the history that has led to the way that agricultural systems are run currently, as the agriculture sector has become industrialized and internationalized. It has enabled me to learn more about how agricultural workers along the food production line are treated, and what protections, or lack thereof, are available to them. And it has empowered me take what I have learned and apply it to the food I buy and eat and the life I live as a Cal student.
During Homecoming Weekend, which happened October 10-12, the campus was even more vibrant and alive than usual. Campus tours, class reunion events, and special museum and lab exhibitions presented lots of opportunities for families to get a flavor of what our campus has to offer our students and gave alumni the chance to return and see in what ways Berkeley is the same and different as it was when they went here. This year, as a newly hired member of the Visitor and Parent Services staff, I had the unique opportunity to partake in a Homecoming festivity unlike any I had done before.