Panels examine Berkeley’s town/gown relationship

Berkeley and Cal: their relationship is often fruitful but sometimes vexed. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The complicated relationship between UC Berkeley and the City of Berkeley, sometimes rewarding, sometimes vexed, will come under the spotlight this fall in a series of discussions titled The University and the City: Ideas for Partnership.

The first of the evening discussions, on the controversial idea of creating a student-majority City Council district, will be next Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church on Dana Street. Panelists include Councilmember Kriss Worthington, Berkeley political science professor Bruce Cain, and vice-president for external affairs of the Associated Students of the University of California Joey Freeman. Berkeleyside’s Lance Knobel will moderate the discussion.

“The relationship between the city and the campus has been strained over the last few decades,” said Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, who has been instrumental in organizing the series. “All of us felt that the more lines of communication that we opened up, the more collaboration there will be.”

The second discussion, on Wednesday, October 19, at Berkeley City College, will examine Berkeley and environmental sustainability. The panel will consist of Timothy Burroughs, climate action coordinator for the City of Berkeley, Lisa McNeilly, UC Berkeley’s director of sustainability, Jason Trager, environmental sustainability director for the Graduate Student Assembly, and Claire Evans, lead coordinator of the UC Berkeley Compost Alliance. Jason Mark, editor of the Earth Island Journal will moderate.

The final discussion asks “How can we improve our arts, food and entertainment districts?” To be held on Wednesday, November 9, at a venue still to be confirmed, it will include Jim Peters, president of the Responsible Hospitality Institute, David Mayeri, former COO of Bill Graham Presents, Kemi Amin, program director of Buy Local Berkeley, and Noah Stern, former president of ASUC. Polly Armstrong, CEO of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, will moderate.

This series is sponsored by the Office of Mayor Tom Bates, Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli, Darryl Moore and Susan Wengraf, UC Berkeley Office of Government and Community Relations, Berkeley City College, Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Berkeley Association, Telegraph Business Improvement District, Livable Berkeley, as well as Berkeleyside.

To find out what is going on in Berkeley and nearby, be sure to check out Berkeleyside’s recently launched Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

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  • This is such a fascinating discussion to me as I skim through the comments and see no mention of grad students. Cal isn’t comprised solely of “19 year old’s” who go home in the winter.
    There are many of us raising our families here as one or both partners go to grad school for years and years. My husband is a PhD student and we have been here three years and counting and will be here many more (and would love to stay permanently).
    So the discussion is fascinating to me as someone who is intimately connected with the university and also loves calling the city home.
    We should all remember that the “best places to raise a family” are almost always university towns. You have a wonderful thing going here – don’t take it for granted.
    I wouldn’t want to be raising my family anywhere else and I’m grateful that the university brought us here to your (and our!) wonderful city.

  • The majority of the students at Cal are undergrads who won’t be staying in Berkeley after they graduate, hence the stereotype.

  • That’s true. But 12,000+ people (grad students and faculty/staff) is no small number of people.
    The fact remains (clear to me anyway) that having a university in a city is a great benefit in many levels. Financially, certainly (though I understand the drawbacks too), but not all benefits are financial. There are so many wonderful benefits to a city from having a university in it that it honestly boggles my mind that anyoe would be upset that it’s here. Besides the fact that it was here long before any of us;)

  • T’Pol

    As someone calculated loosly, the economic impact of the students buying food etc from local vendors is minor. They don’t have the cash and many are on the internal cafeteria plans anyway.
    The school certainly has a braintrust of bright minds as residents, but the company town aspect of the economy is not diverse and the jobs are not the bestpaying. The City does enough damage to other business by assaulting them in fees,taxes to pay for their bloted staff and retirement. Government as employer makes for poor economies and it would be nice for the city to broaden the economic base away from tax exempts like Cal and the Lab. See Washington DC, sacramento,Oakland for examples of government class run cities with poor tax bases