Category Archives: UC Berkeley

Photos: UC Berkeley holds vigil for victims of Oakland fire

Vigil at UC Berkeley for victims of Oakland warehouse fire. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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UC Berkeley held a vigil Thursday at noon to honor the memory of five people with university ties who lost their lives in Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire last week.

Among the 36 confirmed fatalities are two undergraduates, roommates Jenny Morris, 21, of Foster City and Vanessa Plotkin, 21, of Lakewood; recent graduates Griffin Madden, 23, who worked for Cal Performances and 24-year-old David Cline; and 33-year-old Chelsea Dolan, or DJ Cherushii, a volunteer at campus radio station KALX.  A web page created by Cal includes information about the victims.

The city of Oakland completed search and recovery efforts Wednesday at 1315 31st Ave. in Oakland’s Fruitvale district. The city is now working on its investigation into what caused the fire and deciding whether to file criminal charges in connection with the conflagration. Authorities have said the fire was the nation’s deadliest in more than a decade.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks spoke at Thursday’s event, which ran from noon to 1 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall. Friends and relatives of the deceased also shared their remarks: Cal Performances director Matías Tarnopolsky, on Madden; Tim Lynch of International House, on Cline; Jenn Stringer from KALX, where Dolan, Plotkin and Madden all had volunteered; and members of the Morris, Plotkin and Madden families.

In a statement released before the vigil, Dirks wrote: “Now is a time when we all need support as we collectively and individually seek to begin the process of healing and recovery. This is a time to lean on and hold up each other.”
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UC Berkeley reports sewage leak into Strawberry Creek

Sign warning of contaminated water. Photo: David Weisz
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An accidental sewage leak into Strawberry Creek reported by UC Berkeley on Nov. 7 prompted both the city and the university to put up signs warning people about contaminated water.

According to city spokesman Matthai Chakko, UC Berkeley notified multiple agencies — namely the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. EPA, Alameda County Health, Alameda County Environmental Health, Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Unified Program Agency (toxics management) and the city — about the leak.

Berkeleyside was first alerted about the incident Nov. 14 when reader David Weisz posted a photo of one of the signs to Twitter and wrote: “… saw this in the Bay near the marina (near Univ and the frontage road). Any idea what happened?” … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley police investigate election-related hate crime

Watching election2016 on Sproul Plaza Nov. 8, 2016. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A man in his 50s who went up to Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley while election returns were playing on a screen Tuesday evening shouted racist and homophobic phrases at two students, according to the University of California Police Department.

The man then spat at them with spittle landing on one of the students. UCPD is classifying this as a hate crime.

The two students, one male and one female, were watching the election returns around 6:40 p.m. when the man yelled at them, according to police. … Continue reading »

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Cal campus covered with graffiti for Jesse Arreguín

Chalk tagging on the UC Berkeley campus on Monday No. 7, 2016. Photo: Courtesy UC Berkeley
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People arriving on the UC Berkeley campus Monday morning can’t fail to have noticed lots of chalk tagging scrawled on many parts of the campus with messages of support for Berkeley mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguín, as well a few mentioning Rent Board candidates. The most common message was “Vote Jesse 4 Mayor,” or variations on that wording.

Christine Shaff said she counted 70 instances of different tags — all of which were made using chalk — after she got to the the campus today.

“They were on Spieker Plaza, Lower and Upper Plaza, Sather Gate, near Dwinelle Hall, Campanile Way and Moffitt Library,” Shaff, who works in the university’s real-estate division, said, noting that the north side of campus had been spared.

Shaff reported the tagging to UC Berkeley Police and began looking into how the marking could be removed.

“We will need to use water to remove it, with power washing, which is not what we want to do,” she said, although she added the campus could use well rather than potable water. Shaff said maintenance crews couldn’t power-wash busy areas during the day so they might have to do it on overtime.
“We have opened a separate work order to track how much it’s going to cost. It’s a distressing waste of our resources.” … Continue reading »

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Black Panthers focus of new UC Berkeley exhibit

Members of the Black Panthers lined up at a Free Huey (Newton) rally in DeFremery Park in Oakland. (Photo by Stephen Shames/Polaris)
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By Kathleen Maclay
UC Berkeley News

Oct. 15 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers. While the group is closely identified with Oakland, the Panthers also had roots in Berkeley. For a time they had their headquarters on Shattuck Avenue. Steven Shames, a history student at UC Berkeley, met Bobby Seale, one of the Panther founders, in 1967 and went on to take thousands of photos of those involved in the movement. 

Five decades after the founding of the Black Panther Party, an exhibit of two dozen photos taken from the front lines of the history-making, activist organization rooted in the San Francisco Bay Area opens Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

The “Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers” exhibit in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Documentary Photography at North Gate Hall stirs memories of the Black Power movement for those who remember it, and instruction for those who don’t.

It also offers a bracing backdrop to current national dialogue and tensions around race as seen in reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement, protests following fatal police shootings of black men and boys, San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem, and more.

Ken Light, the journalism school’s Reva and David Logan Professor of Photojournalism, said the photos by Stephen Shames “bring history alive and show the power of photography to record and share the Black Panthers’ social consciousness with generations that have only heard about them. Millennials and Gen Xers who are marching in the streets and raising their voices can share in the power, the pride and the struggle that was started over 50 years ago and come away with a renewed sense that Black Lives Matter.” … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley law students hold ‘Black Out’ demo on campus

Berkeley Law students held a 'Black Out' demo on the UC Berkeley campus on Thursday Oct. 7. Photo: Ted Friedman
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The UC Berkeley Law Students of African Descent (LSAD) group held a ‘Black Out’ demonstration on campus Thursday afternoon to “stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and show our continued questioning and resistance of racism, oppression, and violence against our communities.”

LSAD spokeswoman Samya Abdela, a doctorate candidate at Berkeley Law, said the purpose of the protest was to “continue to raise awareness and keep the conversation going about police brutality and its staggering effects on communities of color.” Abdela added that LSAD was hoping to use Thursday’s event as a launch pad for other projects it is planning in future, including addressing structural reform of oppressive policies at the state level, and supporting Cal’s Black athletes. Ted Friedman took the photographs published here.

On the Berkeley Law website, LSAD describes the purpose of its organization as being “to articulate and promote the needs of Black law students in the law school.”

Berkeleyside contributing photographer Ted Friedman took the photos published here. … Continue reading »

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First responders, students question stats showing rise in alcohol abuse at UC Berkeley

Paramedics load a patient into an ambulance during a response to an alcohol poisoning call at Freeborn Hall in the Unit 1 dorms at the University of California, in Berkeley, on Sunday, August 23. The call came in as a possible alcohol poisoning case involving a 19-year-old female in the bathroom of Freeborn Hall. Photo: David Yee
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Despite official statistics suggesting 2016 was a banner year for alcohol abuse during the first weeks of the UC Berkeley school year, anecdotes from first responders and student leaders suggest otherwise.

In early September, the state bureau of Alcohol and Beverage Control released figures for the first two weekends of the school year that indicated alcohol-related incidents spiked 110% this year, compared with 2004 when the ABC bureau first started collecting data. And this year’s total of 551 incidents is up 30% from 2015.

The stats are based on a collaboration between the Berkeley Police Department, ABC and other law-enforcement agencies that is funded through a grant. The annual effort began in 2004.

Unlike previous years, where new records appear in certain citation categories such as ‘open container violations’ or ‘minors in possession of alcohol,’ 2016 set records across the board. For example, in 2016 law enforcement handed out 36 citations for ‘furnishing alcohol to minors,’ beating the 2006 record of 32.

The UC Police reported a slight uptick in hospital transports to 15, from 11 in August. But September, at least through Sept. 21, declined to 16 from 19 in 2015, according to Sergeant Sabrina Reich.

The Berkeley Police Department acknowledged that the increase was likely due to the number of officers involved. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley mascot Oski celebrates 75th birthday

Oski contemplates how to blow out the candle and eat his cupcake with a mouth that doesn’t open. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)
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By Berkeley News / Gretchen Kell

With his trademark cardigan, white gloves, high-stepping gait and goofy grin, Oski, UC Berkeley’s mascot, was created in 1941 to embody a perpetual college sophomore – growing in wisdom, but not yet grown up.

This week, Oski turns 75, but remains more sophomoric than geriatric. Busier than ever with some 300 events a year and his own Twitter handle, Facebook page and Lair of the Golden Bear camp, the furry-headed, mischievous icon isn’t about to retire, or act his age, anytime soon.

“Oski has a wide-eyed, childlike view of Cal, as if he’s thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m here,’ and that’s Oski every day,” says Mal Pacheco, a Cal Athletics volunteer adviser to the campus’s Oski Committee. “He personifies Cal spirit, and as long as Cal is Cal, Oski’s going to be that Cal spirit.”

Oski’s milestone birthday, Tuesday, Sept. 27, will be celebrated in a belated, but bear-sized, way. Events include a Homecoming 2016 pep rally on Sproul Plaza at noon on Friday, Sept. 30; apublic lecture immediately after that, at 1:15 p.m., called “Oski Bear and the Struggles of Being a 75th-Year Sophomore;” an Oski hat giveaway on Saturday, Oct. 1, atHomecoming headquarters before the Cal vs. Utah game; a ticketed Bear Affair Tailgate BBQ; and a special tribute on the football field. … Continue reading »

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FEMA pulls funding for tree clearing in Berkeley hills

Thousands of the Berkeley hills eucalyptus trees may be removed with funding from FEMA. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to remove trees in the Berkeley/Oakland hills for fire management have been pulled after a successful suit by a community group to stop the plan.

FEMA withdrew $3.5 million in funding to UC Berkeley and the City of Oakland as part of a settlement agreement between the agency and the Hills Conservation Network (HCN). FEMA funds for fire mitigation by East Bay Regional Park District are not affected by the settlement.

“The folks who were intending to deforest large swaths of the Oakland/Berkeley hills are not going to be able to get FEMA money to do that,” said Dan Grassetti, president of HCN. “What we would like to see is for species-neutral vegetation management to happen throughout the area. The agencies should focus on eliminating the actual threat we face.”

Fire mitigation plans in the hills have been intensely debated since the devastating 1991 fire that killed 25 people and destroyed 2,843 single-family homes and 437 apartment and condominium units.

In the long-running dispute over the FEMA grant, HCN had argued that plans to remove thousands of eucalypti, Monterey pines and acacia trees would not reduce fire risk. The better approach, according to HCN, was to focus on vegetation-free zones near roadways and structures and brush clearing. That is the approach of the EBRP, he said.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s radical roots on show in major London exhibit

A graphic by Jay Belloli made at the Berkeley Political Poster Workshop in 1970 is on display at the V&A exhibit.
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By Yasmin Anwar / UC Berkeley

A magical mystery tour of 1960s youth rebellion, which launches this month at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, has to include a stop at UC Berkeley.

Students here birthed the Free Speech Movement, led anti-Vietnam-war protests and occupied People’s Park. The campus is where anti-establishment gurus like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Timothy Leary, who urged a generation to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” cut their counterculture teeth.

Berkeley’s rich history of radicalism has thus earned it a place at the much-heralded V&A exhibit, “You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-70,” which runs through Feb. 26.

The wildly eclectic retrospective features some 350 iconic artifacts, including a moon rock from NASA, shards of Jimi Hendrix’s smashed guitars, the first computer mouse and a kaftan worn by Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick at Woodstock. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley police arrest suspect in sexual assault case

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The University of California Police Department has arrested a suspect in a rape reported at a university residence hall in Berkeley over the weekend.

According to an alert released by UCPD on Thursday morning, the department got a report Monday of a rape Sunday night at a UC Berkeley residential hall.

The victim, a 19-year-old female student, was sexually assaulted by a male acquaintance who is also a student and a resident of campus housing, UCPD said.

An investigation led to the arrest Wednesday of 25-year-old Sardar Sikandar Wali Zia Khan on suspicion of two felony charges.

Two Cal students also reported being victims of sexual assault at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on Saturday night. A total of three sexual assaults were reported at Diplo’s ‘Mad Decent Block Party. … Continue reading »

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Despite hit-and-run, arrest in Berkeley, Uber driver still finds time to charge fee

Image: Google Maps
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A 27-year-old Hayward man dropping off an Uber fare in Berkeley flew into a “fit of rage” when he found his route blocked, then drove into a community service officer repeatedly Saturday night before fleeing police and ultimately being arrested, according to rider and police accounts.

The rider, a UC Berkeley student, and her friend “had to jump out of the moving car after he told us not to get out,” she wrote when she contacted Uber on Sunday.

She was charged $7 for the 4-minute ride. According to Uber, the driver would have had to manually end the trip for the fee to have been charged. The fare has since been refunded.

University of California Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Sabrina Reich said Tuesday that a driver for a ride-sharing service struck a UCPD community service officer shortly before 10:10 p.m. Saturday.

Reich confirmed the driver, M. Bilal, fled the scene but was found nearby and identified as the driver. He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, the vehicle.

Reich said the officer ultimately reported no injuries. … Continue reading »

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Operating ‘the world’s largest video game’: Reba Siero retires from storied career at Berkeley Lab

Reba Siero at the 88-Inch Cyclotron. (Credit: Paul Mueller/Berkeley Lab)
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By Glenn Roberts Jr. / Berkeley Lab

Catherine “Reba” Siero’s comfort zone is here in the control room, surrounded by walls bristling with a busy mix of modern and time-tested knobs, dials, buttons, glowing lights, switches and screens.

For the past 23 years Siero, who is retiring next month, has served as an accelerator operator at the 88-Inch Cyclotron, a powerful particle-beam machine that started up 54 years ago at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), then managed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Her career at the lab stretches back about 37 years, first as a UC Berkeley student conducting biology research at Berkeley Lab. From 1981-93 she ran the control system for particle-beam-based medical treatments at the lab’s Bevatron accelerator, an early version of a machine called a synchrotron.

Siero moved to the 88-Inch Cyclotron when the Bevatron — responsible for pioneering cancer treatments, the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the antiproton, and the discovery of the antineutron  —was decommissioned in 1993.

“This is the world’s largest video game,” Siero says as she begins the methodical process of releasing a powerful beam accelerated by the cyclotron’s 300-ton copper and steel magnet toward a heavily shielded experimental chamber called a “cave.” … Continue reading »

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