Category Archives: UC Berkeley

How Quirky is Berkeley? Kingman Hall’s quirky murals

Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
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I went to Kingman Co-Op at 1730 La Loma Ave. on graduation weekend to photograph the front door for a post-in-progress about painted doors. On the way to the door, I found this wonderful toad mural on the garage door.

Read more from Tom Dalzell on Berkeleyside.

The door I wanted to photograph, though, was blocked by a chalkboard with the history of Kingman Hall on it.

Daniella Thompson has written a detailed history of Kingman Hall,  The brief history is: built in 1914 for Theta Xi fraternity, fraternity disbands in 1964, functions as “Toad Hall” rooming house 1964-1969, rooming house with new owner 1969-1973, Ken Keyes Jr. and his Berkeley Living Love Center 1973-1977, and since 1977, the Berkeley Student Cooperative.  It’s all on the chalkboard. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Hundreds gather at ‘Cal Stands With Orlando’ vigil

Staff from Berkeley Lab were among the participants in a vigil to show solidarity with the victim of the Orlando mass shooting. Photo: Kelly Owen
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An estimated 300 people gathered at noon on Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus Monday to demonstrate their support for the victims and families of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, which has so far claimed the lives of some 50 people.

The flags at the entrance to the campus were flying at half-staff. Participants listened to speakers — including Na’ilah Nasir, Vice Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion at UC Berkeley and Billy Curtis, Director of the university’s Gender Equity Resource Center — and were asked to join hands and sing “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” together.  … Continue reading »

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Why is the water in Strawberry Creek bright green?

The "green" Strawberry Creek by citizen reporter
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If you have been walking along Strawberry Creek on the UC Berkeley campus recently, you may have done a double-take: much of the water is a bright green.

One reader, Linda Schacht Gage, was so taken aback by the color that she sent Berkeleyside the photo above, snapped on the north side of campus near University House. She asked us to investigate.

We turned to the person who knows Strawberry Creek the best (or at least has a public contact number) : Tim L. Pine, an environmental specialist at UC Berkeley’s Office of Environment, Health, & Safety.

Pine said the green comes from a non-toxic dye that is used to check the quality of the pipes that feed into the creek. … Continue reading »

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Former UC housing resident sentenced for child porn

UC Berkeley's University Village in Albany includes housing for families affiliated with Cal. Photo: UCB
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A man who was married to a UC Berkeley student, who was living in campus housing at the time of the crime, has been sentenced to nine years in prison in connection with a federal child pornography case, authorities report.

Konrad Wolff, 28, was sentenced Thursday, May 26, by U.S. District Judge James Donato to 108 months in prison.

In December, after a bench trial before Donato, Wolff “was convicted of receiving thousands of images and hundreds of videos of child pornography.”

According to authorities, “The evidence at trial established that Wolff possessed videos and images of minor and prepubescent children engaging in sexually explicit and sadomasochistic conduct. Judge Donato also found at sentencing that the defendant was in possession of certain manuals which provided step-by-step instructions on how to sexually exploit children while avoiding detection by law enforcement.”

Wolff was living in Albany on UC Berkeley property when the initial report came in. He was married to a UC Berkeley student, UCPD said this week. … Continue reading »

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Free stuff on Berkeley’s streets: Blight and/or opportunity?

Stuffed animals and a maquette discarded on a Berkeley street. Photo: Jim Rosenau
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The annual exodus of UC Berkeley students brings with it a not so welcome dumping of furniture and other sundry possessions on streets around the city, particularly near the campus. The city last week reminded tenants and landlords to help keep streets clean by using city services. It included with its release a list of resources to use when dealing with unwanted items. However for artist Jim Rosenau, while he too encourages responsible discarding, the appearance of free stuff on the streets is tantamount to a thrilling treasure hunt. 

“Hippie Christmas” is what they called it in Madison, WI, when the students moved out and put their household belongings on the curb, a former Madisonian tells me. In my near-campus Berkeley neighborhood the curbs today are sprinkled with furniture and household goods (and quite a few bads) that departing students left behind. It’s easy to find fault with mattresses and fax machines on the curb, but for me, the enduring culture of free boxes is like a daily Easter egg hunt. … Continue reading »

UC Berkeley students build new bridge in John Hinkel Park

Blackberry Creek  bridge. Photo: Rene Davids
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By René Davids

This spring, as the result of a collaboration with the City of Berkeley, students enrolled in a multidisciplinary seminar at UC Berkeley’s Department of Architecture designed and built a pedestrian bridge for the upper portion of Blackberry Creek, one of the most attractive natural features in John Hinkel Park.

Located on a steep hillside in North Berkeley planted with oaks and other native species, the 4.9-acre park, which was donated in 1919 to the city by businessman John Hinkel, also includes a clubhouse, a large native-stone fireplace, a network of paths and a playground. The small bridge is intended to improve the safety of park visitors who were previously forced to either jump over the creek, or tread carefully across a slippery stone during periods of increased water flow.
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UC Berkeley

Man takes plea after beating 2 with bat at Berkeley frat

Police police cars outside the fraternity where a 20-year-old was found dead Nov. 9. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two years after being charged with attempted murder in connection with the beating with a metal bat of a pair of UC Berkeley students, an Oakland man has entered dual “no contest” pleas for assault with a deadly weapon.

Frank Paul Watson, 25, was arrested after the attack on April 27, 2014, which left two members of the Zeta Psi fraternity with significant injuries. Both were struck once in the head with the metal bat. One of the young men, Thayer White, suffered a traumatic brain injury. The other ended up needing reconstructive surgery to repair injuries to his face and jaw.

According to court papers, witnesses testified during the preliminary hearing — in December 2014 — that there had been a party that night at Zeta Psi, 2728 Bancroft Way. The party started Saturday night, April 26, and carried on into the early morning of Sunday. Three fraternity brothers, including the one who needed reconstructive surgery, testified about their memories of that night.  … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley student arrested after fraternity rape report

The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house on Piedmont Avenue
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Update, 4 p.m. The district attorney’s office declined to file charges in the case. According to office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, “Based upon a review of the evidence presented by the Berkeley Police Department, we have declined to file criminal charges.” Berkeleyside removed the student’s name, and several identifying details, in light of this new information.

Original story, 7 a.m. Authorities have arrested a 20-year-old UC Berkeley student on suspicion of rape in connection with a case from earlier this year reported to have taken place at a fraternity party near campus.

The Berkeley Police Department arrested the young man at 7 a.m. Thursday after serving a search warrant at his fraternity house at 2395 Piedmont Ave., at Channing Way, authorities said.

UCPD identifies that location as Phi Gamma Delta, a fraternity that is not officially recognized by the CalGreeks organization.

Sgt. Andrew Frankel, BPD spokesman, said the arrest was in connection with “an on-going sexual assault investigation.”

According to a statement released by UCPD on Feb. 22, the victim had attended a party at a fraternity house in the 2300 block of Piedmont three days earlier, on Friday, Feb. 19. The sexual assault took place between midnight and 12:45 a.m. Saturday in a room at the fraternity, which was not named.

According to the UCPD statement, “a report was made to a Campus Security Authority who is required under the Federal Clery Act to report it to the campus Clery Compliance Officer. UCPD is in turn required to alert our community of the crime.” … Continue reading »

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Human skull, bones found on Berkeley Lab property

A human skull and three bones were unearthed on Berkeley Lab property on Monday. Photo: LBL Photo: Berkeley Lab
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A human skull and three human bones were discovered on Berkeley Lab property Monday during some routine digging to clear a ditch.

According to a release put out by the Lab on Wednesday, a Lab facilities crew working to clear a drainage ditch in “very steep and brushy terrain” on Berkeley Lab’s southern perimeter discovered a skull and one bone around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The Alameda County coroner’s office was called in and completed its search of the site on Tuesday after finding two more bones. The remains were found outside of Berkeley Lab’s fence line but on Berkeley Lab’s property. 

It is not known how long the remains were in the ditch, nor how old they are. Foul play is not suspected, according to the Lab’s statement, pending new information from the coroner’s office.

Jon Weiner, a spokesman for the Lab, said they were waiting to hear back from the coroner’s office as to any possible identification of the remains. … Continue reading »

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Photos: 100s turn up, chill out for 420 day on Cal campus

420 Day on the UC Berkeley campus, April 20, 2016. Photo: Ted Friedman
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People came out in droves to Memorial Glade on the UC Berkeley campus Wednesday to mark 420 day, an international celebration of cannabis culture. The mood was, as might be expected, mellow and the more entrepreneurial among the student body were making munchies available.

The origins of 420 day are as hazy as a cloud of marijuana smoke: urban myths include the notion that 420 is the police radio code for smoking marijuana in public; 4/20 was the day Adolf Hitler — or perhaps Jim Morrison of The Doors died; or that 420 relates to California’s penal code relating to cannabis. The most likely explanation is close to home and involves a group of San Rafael high-school students, at least according to Slate.

Contributing photographer Ted Friedman checked out the scene at Cal — at around 4:20 p.m., naturally. … Continue reading »

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New Cal Performances season puts focus on inclusion, innovation, immersion

Black Arm Band. Photo: Cal Performances
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A world premiere of  a Mark Morris work, the first fully staged performance of an opera in 270 years, a restaging of a groundbreaking collaboration between John Adams, Lucinda Childs and Frank Gehry, a residency by London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, a choral festival, and a complete cycle of Beethoven string quartets are among the highlights of the 2016-17 season of Cal Performances.

At the core of the 111th Cal Performances season are what executive and artistic director Matías Tarnopolsky calls “three strands of artistic exploration”: inclusion, innovation and immersion. The inclusion theme kicks off with the season opening world premiere of Mark Morris Dance Group’s “Layla and Majnun,” with music performed by The Silk Road Ensemble with the voices of Azerbaijan’s Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, with sets and costumes by British artist Howard Hodgkin.  … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Housing is scarce, but UC’s new project is too big

This rendering shows the Stiles Site Student Housing Project from Spieker Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus, looking southeast. Photo: UC Berkeley
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There is no doubt that there is a housing shortage in Berkeley and with UC’s decision to admit more students, the crunch will get even worse. Yet the university’s plan to build an 8-story, 783-bed housing complex on Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue, east of Dana Street and just south of the UC Berkeley campus, is just plain wrong, argue Bill McClung and Martin Holder in an Opinionator piece. The planned design extends from property line to property line … Continue reading »

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley forecasts $85 million deficit reduction over next year

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks at Uncharted 2015. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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The first results of UC Berkeley’s comprehensive strategic review account for a deficit reduction of $85 million by the end of the next fiscal year and staff cuts of 500 over the next two years, according to an email sent to faculty and staff by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks yesterday.

In February, Dirks warned about “a substantial and growing structural deficit,” which he termed “unsustainable.” The deficit for the current fiscal year was forecast to reach about $150 million.

In his email yesterday, Dirks said the university’s goal was to have a balanced budget by 2019-20.  … Continue reading »