Category Archives: UC Berkeley

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 »


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 »

BioBlitz logs biodiversity on UC Berkeley campus

UC Berkeley student Karen Gallardo holds a spider found by Jakob Rees in the Eucalyptus Grove. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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A crowd of intrepid young scientists brushed off Saturday morning rain to participate in the Berkeley BioBlitz. The BioBlitz was designed to be an intensive study of biodiversity on the UC Berkeley campus, and was one of over two dozen BioBlitz events held around California to celebrate the National Park centennial.

Photographer Kelly Sullivan put on her rain gear to chronicle the day for Berkeleyside.

Using the iNaturalist app, 32 different observers logged 290 observations of a total 54 species. The rain brought out the amphibians: the two most observed species were the California Slender Salamander (seven observations) and the Arboreal Salamander (six observations).  … Continue reading »

UC Berkeley

Cal assistant coach rebuts sexual harassment accusation

Yann Hufnagel. Photo: CalBears
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Lawyers for Yann Hufnagel, the Cal assistant basketball coach who was relieved of his duties on March 14 following a finding that he had violated the university’s sexual harassment policy, have presented the university with new evidence they say proves his innocence.

“The evidence shows this is not harassment,” said Mary McNamara of Swanson & McNamara. “I really believe the university will reach the correct decision.”

McNamara has presented the university with 900 text messages between Hufnagel and the reporter who filed the sexual harassment complaint. According to McNamara, the extensive text history shows “mutual flirtation,” not harassment. San Francisco-based crisis communications consultant Sam Singer and the lawyers released a handful of the messages to the media today.

In a statement issued today, the university questions why Hufnagel did not present the full text message archive during the investigation by the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD).  … Continue reading »

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Man wanted after sexual assault arrested in Tennessee

Sheldon Johnson. Photo: NCRIC
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A 23-year-old man wanted in connection with a sexual assault on the UC Berkeley campus was arrested by authorities in Tennessee over the weekend after a report of a domestic dispute.

The Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which had previously identified Sheldon Harley Johnson as a wanted fugitive now lists him as “captured.”

Scroll down for updates.

According to NCRIC, he had been wanted for a sexual assault on the Cal campus. No other details about that case were posted.

The University of California Police Department declined Tuesday to provide any information about that incident, but said it would be putting out a crime alert at some point.

The Daily News Journal, which is based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, reported Tuesday morning that Johnson was arrested during a call involving a domestic dispute over the weekend.  … Continue reading »

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2 Berkeley officials call for Fulton Street bike lane

Bike East Bay says a protected bike lane like this on Fulton Street would make cyclists safer. Image: Bike East Bay
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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and mayoral hopeful Councilman Jesse Arreguín have teamed up to ask the city manager to move quickly to extend a bike lane two blocks south on Fulton Street by the site of a near-fatal crash involving a cyclist and vehicle in February.

In a Berkeley City Council consent calendar item scheduled for Tuesday, March 15, they ask the “City Manager and Transportation staff to prioritize and expedite the installation of a bicycle lane on Fulton Street between Bancroft Way and Channing Way.”

The council item notes that the city needs to conduct a traffic study and public hearing before a new bike lane could be installed.

“This item urges staff to prioritize completion of all steps necessary to install the bike lane by May 12, 2016, Bike to Work Day or as expeditiously as possible thereafter,” according to the brief report. There is a bike lane on Fulton Street north of Bancroft Way but it ends at that intersection.

Advocacy group Bike East Bay has been actively pushing for that extension since last year when the street was repaved, and say city bike planning documents already lay the groundwork for making it happen. They renewed calls for the lane after Megan Schwarzman, a mother, medical doctor and UC Berkeley scientist, was struck by a driver Feb. 2 at Fulton and Bancroft Way and critically injured.  … Continue reading »

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