spring 2018 / issue 1
story by ADAM MANN
The BCC VOICE is produced by students from English 14/15 at Berkeley City College, with funding from the Associated Students. A special thank you to the ASBCC, the BCC English Department, administrators, faculty and students who make this school great!
Health and Wellness
Self-Care for students
On the Cover:
"People's Cafe" by Nehal Motiwala
Oil on canvas
Nehal Motiwala is a Berkeley City College student currently working towards transfer to a four-year college.
She likes to paint for fun. You can find more of her art on the walls of Well Grounded Tea and Coffee Bar, a small coffee shop where she works as a barista and on her Instagram — @nehalhanif,
What's Behind the Pop Hooks that Dominate the Radio
Your New Favorite Place
Where to Hang Out Around BCC
Ideas for Sale
Defining Academic Dishonesty
Photo Credit: Adam Mann
2578 Shattuck Ave.
With one location in San Francisco, The Apothecarium is set to open a second branch on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley — though, according to a Berkeleyside article published June 8, 2017, problems with the landlord have slowed the opening process, and the dispensary is now seeking a new storefront.
3243 Sacramento St.
Berkeley's fourth licensed cannabis dispensary and the first to be approved since 2001. Owned by Sue Taylor, an African-American retired Catholic school principal, iCANN will focus on cannabis access for seniors.
So Where Are All the Pot Shops?
SPRING 2018, Issue 1 / bccvoice.net
It's Legal ...
So Where Are All the Pot Shops?
Make Easy Money and Shop Ethically
Judicial Remedies Highlight Discrepancies in Accountability
Activities Around the Bay
Nancy M Patton
The Search for Identity and Community Through a Return to One's Homeland
#MeToo Meets BCC
How the Global Movement is Changing Campus Response to Sexual Assault
Outside of Berkeley Patients Group.
Out of Sight
For Visually Impaired Students, Support Systems Are Often Hidden
Nancy Millar Patton
Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective (BC3)
2465 Telegraph Ave.
If you've been in Amoeba recently and wondered where the section that once housed jazz and dollar clearance went: it was relocated to make room for BC3, a dispensary led by Berkeley Patients Group co-founder and major pot industry player Deb Goldsberry.
A map of Berkeley's current and proposed dispensaries. Image Credit: Maya Kashima
For decades, Berkeley has been a national leader in progressive marijuana laws: the city allowed some of the country's first medical cannabis dispensaries to open in 1996, and in February 2018, the City Council voted to declare itself a sanctuary for prosecution against legal cannabis. So with recreational pot now legal, why aren't there more dispensaries here?
According to The Oregonian, Portland had 167 dispensaries in 2016, and Denver, as reported by Business Insider, is home to at least twice as many dispensaries as Starbucks coffee shops. While Berkeley's population is about one-sixth of either of those cities, it's notable that, in a city that led the country in access to legal marijuana, there are still only three places to legally buy pot: Berkeley Patients Group, Cannabis Buyers Club Berkeley and Patient's Care Collective.
Rather than the explosion of dispensaries that other cities in the West have experienced post legalization, Berkeley's approach is far more measured. The city has a Cannabis Commission, comprised partly of cannabis industry members, which makes policy recommendations to the City Council. According to the Commission's website, the city has granted just three licenses for new dispensaries since 2016.
Aundre Speciale, director of Cannabis Buyer's Club Berkeley, praised Berkeley's process in an interview with The BCC Voice.
"The city had the foresight to put rules in place long before most other cities," Speciale said. "We've had to follow really strict guidelines — the strictest testing guidelines in the country — for years. We have regular medical cannabis commission meetings where we have a voice, there are submission meetings where anyone in the public can come. So with the state rules coming in, we're already set."
Still, there are clearly barriers to starting up in the pot business, which, Speciale says, is a problem with the way the law is currently structured.
"I wish there could be an easier entry for the small craft growers, the small boutique growers ... I hope as we move forward there’s going to be more of a carve-out for that kind of thing, a niche for those people to continue operating the way they’re operating."
The Legendary UC Theatre
A Closer Look at Its Quirky History
Which Birth Control is Right for You?
Figuring Out the Best Option
Tips for buying legal weed
You don't have to have a medical card! You just need to be over 21 with a government-issued ID. Recreational pot does, however, cost more than medical due to higher recreational taxes.
Orders must be paid for with cash or, depending on the dispensary, a debit card.
Many dispensaries, such as Berkeley Patients Group, have an express line for users who know exactly what they want, or for online and phone orders, and a full service line for customers with questions. Some dispensaries even have pot vending machines! If you're new, take advantage of the full service line.
From Aundre Speciale: "I’ve had conversations, especially with new people, where they’d had an anxious experience with smoking or felt like it was too strong. So we have really amazing CBD blends. I would recommend CBD options for people who are coming for the first time."
Edibles are a different experience than smoking, and can be far more intense! Ask the folks behind the counter for a recommended dosage.
Dispensaries are not allowed to sell cannabis that's intended to be distributed to a third party. So if you're picking up for a friend, keep it to yourself.
Starched collars and sodden hems alike conceal narratives of trauma, yet some are deemed deserving of salute while others are deigned unfit for even fleeting salutation. Cultural cliches of worth and merit inform institutional practices in California and create a divergence in how aid is rendered to those in need.
The veterans' court program, modeled on successful drug court implementations, is a relatively recent addition to a slew of services, entitlements and supports available to veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The program is entering its tenth year. Founded in 2008, in Buffalo, New York, the program is composed of a loose coalition of state and local courts, with 26 in California alone. Veterans' courts emphasize deferment and treatment, to keep veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or suffering from trauma, sexual abuse or drug addiction from entering the prison system.
H.R. 4345, The Veterans' Treatment Court Coordination Act, proposed by Representatives Charles Crist, a Florida Democrat, and Jeff Denham, a California Republican, would have the program expand nationwide through a series of grants to local judicial districts administered by the Department of Justice. Care for the country’s former servicemen and women is one of the few issues today that still receives bipartisan support. What other cause could unite a Florida Democrat and a California Republican? Such support should be a solid indicator of the political insulation such social services maintain.
Berkeley City College connects veterans to these programs through its Veterans’ Resource Center located on the third floor’s west side. While the veterans court program addresses a specific set of individuals and eligibility can vary between jurisdictions, its core concept — of taking into account the myriad factors precipitating an individual’s arrival before a judge — is an encouraging step towards a criminal legal system that prioritizes rehabilitative strategies over punitive ones and offers a more wide-ranging recognition of the effects of trauma and substance abuse within the criminal legal system.
Though veterans’ programs are no stranger to accusations of bureaucratic waste and mismanagement, rarely are veterans themselves subject to the narratives of fraud or entitlement abuse all too familiar to welfare recipients and beneficiaries of government aid programs.
"It’s okay if we say it," assures Timothy Hilton, a Marine Corps veteran and Berkeley City College Veterans’ Club member, after chiding those among his fellow veterans who aim to game the system of benefits by exaggerating or inventing ailments to increase their disability rating. Hilton feels such exaggeration is commonplace, and while the topic is freely discussed amongst veterans, it is a taboo conversation piece in other settings.
The defense of resources earmarked for veterans is readily leapt to not only by politicians seeking votes and the recipients themselves, but by the very words used to describe such services. Veterans services are just that, "services" or "resources" or "benefits," while more generally applicable social services are labeled "entitlements" and "welfare." The difference in popular rhetoric, while illuminating a certain transactional nature of service in the United States Armed Forces, speaks to a sense of obligation felt towards servicemen and women, and the continued support for expansion of these services to a guilt in not having fulfilled that obligation.
But American guilt is selective. It is a guilt which can concede the trauma of donning a uniform, but condemns the injury of sleeping on the street, a guilt that more readily warrants kindness to those who have stepped into harm’s way than for those who have fallen into it.
This is not to say that veterans are not deserving of the support they receive, and more — for they are. Rather, with homelessness on the front-pages of nearly every news outlet in California — and on the doorstep of many Californians — with an overburdened and controversy-fraught prison system, those spaces where there is popular support for programs aimed at rehabilitation and empowerment deserve to be examined.
The connection is not a hard one to draw. "We must end the vicious cycle of homelessness, debt and jail," writes Gayle Greco in a letter to the Los Angeles Times, "we have established veterans treatment courts … why not try a Los Angeles County homelessness court?"
But mimicking the method is not as easy as it sounds. The increased judicial discretion, which wins bipartisan support when applied to veterans, has stirred controversy and civil liberty concerns when applied to San Francisco’s homeless population. Representative Scott Weiner’s proposed legislation to expand conservatorship eligibility, SB-1045, received support from local business owners and city council members, but drew ire from the Coalition on Homelessness’ Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach as being a superficial change in San Francisco’s treatment of homeless persons and for doing little to address the root causes of homelessness.
Trauma should not win consideration and kindness when it comes as the result of service, but institutionalization when it comes as a symptom of the street. Perhaps as a nation we need to try to feel as responsible for the condition of our homeless as we do for the condition of our veterans. Their hardships are equally the product of the society within which we all reside.
The author pets a deer at Nara Park in Nara, Japan.
The Search For Identity and Community Through a Return to One's Homeland
Elevated walkways connect Oakland's three-block long police station, courthouse and county jail complex. The Alameda County Veterans Treatment Court is housed inside the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse at 616 Washington Ave.
story + photo by MAYA KASHIMA
Growing up, I was told I wasn’t Asian. Well, not that I wasn’t Asian, but I wasn’t really Asian, you know? I had lenient parents. I wasn’t on a STEM track. I didn’t go to Saturday school to learn an ancestral language; all my family spoke was English. My dad made frozen potstickers from Trader Joe's for dinner. My quarter-white, three-quarter-Asian blood produced a thicket of frizzy black hair that girls in my P.E. class would touch, expressing fascination at the fact I was one of them, but also not.
It wouldn’t be until college that I finally saw validity in my Asian-American identity. For the first time, I met others who occupied the same liminal space as me, who felt just as insecure and confused about where they fit in the world. My studies helped me understand my family’s Asian-ness within a broader context, too — my mom’s white father and Korean immigrant mother, who married before Loving v. Virginia ruled anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, shied away from raising children too culturally Asian to survive in 1960s Wisconsin; my dad’s second-generation Japanese-American parents lost much of their culture to incarceration during World War II.
While I came to embrace my identity as a mixed-race Japanese/Korean/Asian-American, I still felt a sense of loneliness. In my late teens and early twenties, I battled with myself searching for a sense of connection to my heritage, again becoming the same young girl who wished she could be "Asian enough." I learned Japanese, developing a working proficiency and slowly mastering the culture my grandparents might have shared with me had Franklin Delano Roosevelt never signed the executive order that stole their dignity. I grew tired of it, though, once I realized that my peers didn’t see Japanese culture as anything more than a hobby, and that I was the only one for whom studying was an emotional burden.
In her 2016 novel, "Homegoing," Berkeley-based author Yaa Gyasi writes of similar struggles faced by descendants of the transatlantic slave trade. One of her protagonists, a master’s student at Stanford, decides to study African-American culture for reasons not unlike why I took up Japanese. He too wrestles with the dissonance between academia and an existential longing to belong. Lost in thoughts of wishing he could know the lives of those who came before him, he takes note of a particular "feeling of time, of having been a part of something that stretched so far back, was so impossibly large, that it was easy to forget that she, and he, and everyone else, existed in it – not apart from it, but inside of it."
I felt the same sense of transcendent time as I stepped off my ten-hour flight to Tokyo in December 2017. I had come to Japan with the Kakehashi Project, a seven-day program in which Japanese-Americans, as well as a handful of non-Japanese Asian-Americans, travel to Japan to learn about their heritage and become cultural ambassadors for U.S.-Japan relations.
Kakehashi, started in 2014 by the Japanese American Citizens League and the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE), is only the latest in a group of programs helping diasporic youth connect with their ancestral homelands. Perhaps the most well-known among them is Israel’s Taglit-Birthright. Started in 1999, Birthright has sent approximately 600,000 Jewish young adults to Israel. There, they visit cultural sites, engage in dialogues about Judaism and Jewish culture, and spend time with same-aged peers serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. The program was "born out of a concern that assimilation was leading Diaspora Jewry away from engagement with Jewish life and the State of Israel," the program's website states.
Most government-sponsored youth programs serve the dual purpose of encouraging cultivation of diasporic cultural identity and promoting a certain brand of ethnic nationalism. Whether Birthright’s Zionist tenets and ties to the IDF are positive or negative depends on who you ask, and the same goes for Kakehashi. We attended lectures from officials who spoke in favor of Japan’s current conservative administration, which is perhaps expected from someone representing the Japanese government, but were not told to adhere to any specific political ideology. The trip’s general aim, at least on JICE’s end, was to spread the word about all the positives of Japanese culture and encourage us to live and work in Japan.
I never thought I would consider it, but being there, I did feel a renewed desire to connect with my Japanese roots. During a homestay in rural Kyoto Prefecture, I served as an interpreter for two other participants staying in the same household. Our okaasan and otousan (mom and dad) couldn’t stop marveling over how much one girl, who always felt she didn’t look Japanese enough, reminded them of their daughter. The trip was full of affirming moments like this, a testament to the great value of these programs.
"I always felt pretty distant from my Japanese-American side," says fellow Kakehashi participant and Berkley City College student Noelle Fa-Kaji. "It just didn’t seem like there was a big community around [Berkeley]." It was something of a revelation, then, to be halfway across the world and experience belonging.
At first she thought the program would focus primarily on tourism and promoting Japan, given its emphasis on cultural ambassadorship. "I was expecting, like, ‘come and see the sights and then go home and tell everybody else how cool Japan is!’ And then I got there and was like, ‘Oh, so we’re thinking about our place in the diaspora.’"
In this way, the trip fulfilled its goals — to bridge gaps between cultures and communities (Kakehashi literally means "bridge"), it helps to cultivate a community of one's own.
"That was something I didn’t expect to get out of it," Fa-Kaji says. "I think that was the most valuable thing, over any of the programming or anything like that. The human connection."
The Search for Identity and Community through a Return to One's Homeland
story + photo by ALEXANDER COATES
It is a guilt which can concede the trauma of donning a uniform, but condemns the injury of sleeping on the street ...
Judicial Remedies Highlight Discrepancies in Accountability
story by NANCY MILLAR PATTON
Ideas for Sale
Photo Courtesy of Louis Do
Defining Academic Dishonesty
For Visually Impaired Students, Support Services Are Often Hidden
Obtaining a college education is no easy task, but for students with disabilities, the path to completing a degree program is lined with unique challenges and barriers.
Youth with disabilities participate in post-secondary programs at only one-quarter the rate attained by their counterparts without disabilities, and at only one-third the rate attained by economically disadvantaged youth, according to a report by Columbia University's Community College Research Center.
Many disabled students also experience prejudice in their lives. Ableism is a form of prejudice against people with disabilities.
Wakeelah Aaliya originally came to Berkeley City College in 2008, after a stint at the University of Illinois, where her experience was a "culture shock." Aaliya felt like a "social abnormality." Coming from the Bay Area, she felt there was no space for her; there was little racial consciousness at the university and the cultures generally didn’t mix. Add to that her visual impairment, and one can see how she fell outside of social norms within the school. She says she experienced a "triple whammy," being sight impaired, female and African American, she was ostracized and treated like she wasn’t smart and couldn’t think.
Aaliya points out that she was not made aware of resources for the disabled and would essentially stumble upon information about what was available while speaking with peers about their experiences. She says she also faced campus counselors who disbelieved the extent of her disability, and thought she was trying to "milk the system."
Louis Do, a former student of BCC who is blind, concurred with Aaliya. As a visually-disabled student, Do found the resources available to him for assistance with accessibility were not very well advertised. "I don't know how you'd find them if you weren't aware of them," said Do.
Fortunately for Do, a case manager from the Hatlen Center for the Blind, from which he had recently graduated, put him in touch with the Disabled Students Program and Services (DSPS) department at BCC, also known as Program & Services for Students with Disabilities (PSSD).
Do, however, feels that when he first contacted PSSD, they started him off on the wrong foot. Told that the math and English assessments were not disability accessible, it would be necessary to put him in lower division classes. When he protested, he was informed he could submit a writing sample, which ultimately gave him access to the proper English 1A class. But there was no alternative to the math portion to prove his competency. The only course of action he was given was to take two remedial math classes before he could qualify to take the college level statistics class required for transfer to a University of California campus.
Luckily for Do, his first remedial math class instructor saw his aptitude, and recommended that he skip straight to statistics. Still, when he notified PSSD of his instructor’s recommendation, he was told that was not an option. "They [PSSD] didn’t seem invested in my success," Do recalled. Again, he had to advocate for himself, and insist he be given the opportunity.
Fortunately, Do had confidence and was comfortable doing that. He even reported overhearing a teacher say, "I can’t have him in my class, he’s blind." But at the end of the day, he said most of his teachers were supportive and seemed interested in seeing him succeed.
While allowing that the department is short staffed, acknowledges Do, "It’s incumbent upon PSSD to have those tools and measures in place and make them known to the student body in order to make their program and their students successful."
In the end, however, Do did want it known that the Alternate Media department, specifically, was ultimately instrumental in providing him with accessible materials.
When asked about how the disabled become aware of BCC's accessibility and support services, Roberto Gonzalez, Alternate Media Specialist with PSSD, told The BCC Voice that someone who walks in off the street and has previously received disability services can pick up where they left off. If a student has recently been diagnosed with a disability and is exploring what to do for the first time, "some real work needs to be done," Gonzalez said, "which can take some time." The program and services available at the college level are completely voluntary. Students must seek out services, enroll and meet eligibility requirements.
There are several ways PSSD reaches out to the student population about their support services. Community Advisory Committee meetings — mandated by federal and state law — are held annually and relay the services available through PSSD. Other times, PSSD representatives will attend an instructor's class to let students know about the services they offer. Some instructors also include information regarding what resources are available in their course syllabus.
Students interested in the accommodation through the PSSD will find services such as Alternate Textbook Program(s), Assistive Technology and Digital Accessible Information System(s) (DAISY). Students who would like more information about the PSSD can stop by the Office of Disabled Students Program and Services in Room 261 or call them at (510) 981-2812 or (510) 981-2813. You can also visit their website at:
Empowerment of the disabled community is exercised both inside and outside the classroom. It’s important for students with disabilities to feel as though they are moving from a world where they are invisible, into a world where they are seen and heard. While there is work to be done, greater awareness about the experiences of students with disabilities will increase the effectiveness of the support that is provided. Through honest and thoughtful discussions, we can make room for individual and collective understanding.
Out of Sight
story by MINHAL MOTIWALA
When it comes right down to it, it’s dishonest, and both the buyer and the seller are compromising their academic integrity.
Websites such as StudySoup, OneClass and GradeSaver offer students the ability to take notes for their courses and sell them online. Selling class notes is becoming an increasingly popular way for students to make money, while also trying to stay focused in school. The better the notes are, the more money students are likely to make, but is it worth the consequences for the students who get caught? Selling class notes is considered academic dishonesty in some colleges, and the repercussions are the same as those of cheating on an exam or purchasing a term paper.
Berkeley City College has a strict policy concerning plagiarism. This includes the sharing of ideas without due credit, which is what happens when notes are purchased. Yet selling one's notes is not given the same importance by students as some other forms of plagiarism, in part because it is a fairly new concept, and also because of the divide between people who believe selling notes is a form of academic dishonesty and people who don't.
"If someone sells me notes," says a second year Berkeley City College student, "from a class that they are taking this semester, that I will be taking next semester, then I can benefit from their notes and know what to expect of the class when I take it, rather than use them as my sole resource of passing the class." This is the perspective of a student who is hoping to transfer soon to the University of California, Berkeley.
It’s a popular opinion among students that the sale of notes should not be considered plagiarism. However, Berkeley City College’s website and Student Code of Conduct defines academic dishonesty as "any type of cheating that occurs in relation to a formal academic exercise." It goes on to include plagiarism as a type of academic dishonesty, defining plagiarism as, "The adoption or reproduction of ideas or words or statements of another person without due acknowledgment." Though this policy doesn’t specify the sale of class notes, it does prohibit reproducing another individual's original thoughts and ideas without giving credit.
Berkeley City College’s website also links UC Berkeley’s code of conduct as a resource, which explicitly states that "selling, preparing or distributing for any commercial purpose course lecture notes or video or audio recordings of any course unless authorized by the university in advance and explicitly permitted by the course instructor in writing" is a form of academic dishonesty. As if this wasn’t specific enough, most instructors also include their personal definition of academic dishonesty on their syllabi, so it’s clearly stated for each student even if they haven’t read the school's code of conduct.
In an interview with The BCC Voice, Brenda Johnson, Dean of Student Support Services, invokes instructors' efforts when asked what immediate steps can be taken to prevent students from being academically dishonest and selling class notes. She states, "I would hope that the instructors would be of assistance in helping students know not to cheat."
Students find the idea of selling class notes appealing because it seems like an easy way to make money while still focusing on their academics. However, when it comes down to it, it’s dishonest and both the buyer and the seller are compromising their academic integrity.
The buyer risks dealing with the consequences of being dishonest in their college and the seller is profiting off of someone else’s dishonesty. Additionally, when the seller is found out by the administration at their college, they too have to deal with the consequences of being academically dishonest. This could include receiving an F for the class, being dropped from the course in which they are caught cheating, being suspended or even expelled from their college.
When it comes to making money as a student, though it may be convenient to sell class notes, the convenience is not worth the consequences. Students would be better off looking for resources that can help them academically, such as Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS) which provides students with free textbooks, printing and counselors to help them every step of the way. They could also apply for scholarships to use toward their expenses or participate in a work-study at their school where they can get paid to work during school hours. This work can sometimes include taking class notes for disabled students, a school-approved way to get paid for taking notes, facilitated by Disabled Students Programs & Services. (DSPS)
Photo Credit: Amina Khan
How the Global Movement is Changing Campus Response to Sexual Assault
story by LIZ ZARKA
the wake of the October 2017 New York Times report detailing years of systematic sexual misconduct perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein, we have witnessed Hollywood ingenues, corporate professionals and Olympic athletes alike take to social media to share their experiences as survivors.
#MeToo has created a cascade of activity seeking justice for victims, resulting in companies and institutions parting ways with alleged perpetrators, congressional resignations and electoral upsets. Amidst the news maelstrom, it is easy to forget that cases of sexual violence and harassment occur in our own community.
"I want to say it was early October," Imani Williams* told The BCC Voice, "I went to a fraternity on game day, and there was this guy that I had been talking to for a little bit. Then all of a sudden, I was blacked out on his bed, on my stomach, and he was having sex with me from the back. I woke up several times and I was like ‘Stop, stop, stop!’ and he wouldn’t stop, and I would just fall back asleep again."
Williams recounted her experience navigating the sexual assault reporting process at Berkeley City College in the weeks and months following her violent rape, in order to help The BCC Voice better understand the relationship between the #MeToo movement and the BCC community, and learn how the college's administration approaches the difficult task of addressing sexual misconduct.
"We have run the gamut in terms of incidences that have been reported to us. It’s typical to address dating violence, stalking, workplace harassment and sexual assault. We’ve seen it all, we’ve heard it all and we’ve addressed it all," explained Jason Cifra, Vice President of Student Services at Berkeley City College.
In addition to serving as the Vice President of Student Services, Cifra is the campus’ Title IX coordinator, a position that he has held for the past six years. Title IX is a federal law that falls under the 1972 Education Amendments, prohibiting institutions that receive federal funding, which the vast majority of state and community colleges in the United States do, from discriminating against students on the basis of sex. For decades, it has served as the preeminent law under which courts have litigated claims of sexual harassment and violence. Under Title IX, schools are legally required to take action to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct cases that might create a hostile educational environment. If they fail to do so, these institutions run the risk of losing federal funding.
Through meeting with Cifra, The BCC Voice learned that many measures BCC employs to tackle the issue of sexual misconduct involve coordination with outside parties. In addition to hiring contractors to educate students and faculty about sexual assault, Title IX and Safe Zone awareness, BCC enlists the help of several community partners for preventative and early-response measures, including Bay Area Women Against Rape and community-based mental health providers. Cifra said that the heavy reliance on these organizations for intervention is intentional, explaining that going to campus to receive services for sexual assault could further trigger already-traumatized victims. Deferring to external parties, he believes, might be a more convenient and comfortable option for individuals reporting experiences of sexual violence.
Williams disagrees. During our conversation, she listed several on-campus resources that she wishes had been available to her and other sexual assault victims. She points out that while there are mental health counselors in the building, open appointments are difficult to come by since the number of staff members in the counseling department is woefully inadequate to deal with the volume of students requiring help. Even having access to a simple support system, the sort of place where students who experienced sexual assault could go to share their stories and be surrounded by people who can relate, would have been helpful in her healing process, Williams says.
She also wishes there were more transparency about the resources that are available. Unaware of the college’s Title IX office, Williams attempted to report her rape to the Associated Students of Berkeley City College (ASBCC). After listening to William's story, an ASBCC officer claimed that he would take down her experience and submit a request for a formal investigation with campus administration. Instead of following the proper channels and adhering to basic standards of procedure, which maintain the confidentiality of the victim, Williams claims that this individual shared her story with other members of the organization, and she quickly became the subject of unwelcome student gossip. During all of this, Williams says her mental health declined, and she turned to alcohol and marijuana to cope with her depression.
The BCC Voice reached out to the ASBCC regarding these claims, but has yet to received a comment.
The #MeToo movement forces us to confront the reality that unfortunately, William's story is not out of the norm. For months, we have heard case after case revealing how victims’ brave pursuits for redress have traditionally been met with silencing tactics or incompetence on behalf of the entities that are meant to help them. Nevertheless, by revealing the ubiquity of sexual misconduct in virtually every facet of American life, and signaling to victims that they are not alone in feeling unsatisfied by the tepid responses on behalf of responsible institutions, the movement is already contributing to higher rates of reporting in communities nationwide.
In the month that the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were released, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network received a 21 percent increase in traffic on its national helpline. A December 2017 report by The Harvard Crimson states that the campus has experienced a 20 percent jump in reported sexual harassment cases compared to the same time period for the year previous.
As we face the possibility that more and more students will come forward, the Berkeley City College administration should be prepared to meet victims' bravery with an organized, well-communicated response.
#MeToo should inspire us to look forward and evaluate how we can improve our existing institutions to make efficient reporting possible. Cifra ended the interview by sharing his vision for how BCC could be more effective in addressing sex-based crimes, outlining changes that include adding a mental health provider to the Title IX department, as well as "confidential advisors," staff members who would be assigned to individual students to direct them to legal services and help guide them through the formal process of investigating a Title IX violation.
Four months after her assault, Williams told The BCC Voice that she was dealing with her mental health a lot more than she did before. She is taking a full load of classes this semester and regularly speaks with a psychologist to cope with assault-related trauma in place of self-medicating. Next semester, she hopes to organize a campus club that would host weekly meet-ups to which women could simply show up, hang out and feel comfortable being surrounded by a community of other women. "The club would be called 'Safe Space'," she said. Despite the ongoing struggle in the aftermath of her rape, Williams has regained a lot of her confidence and levity. "In terms of the merch, I’m thinking of taking the NASA logo, but instead of ‘NASA’ we put ‘Safe Space’ in front of it" she mused, an excited smile breaking out across her face.
*Name changed to protect privacy of sexual assault victim.
The BCC Voice wants to help educate the community about resources and how to respond in cases of sexual misconduct. If you are a survivor of sexual harassment, assault or rape, here is where to start:
Reach out to Janine Greer, Mental Health Specialist at the BCC Wellness Center (510-981-2894; email@example.com) to schedule an appointment.
Notify the Responsible District Officer about the incident as soon as possible. For students, this is the Vice-President of Student Services, Jason Cifra (510-981-2900; firstname.lastname@example.org). For employees, this is the District Equal Opportunity Officer.
Meet with the Responsible District Officer to go over the details of the incident and learn about the different options available for proceeding, including informal and formal complaint processes. If an informal complaint process is preferable, the Responsible District Officer will facilitate a meeting and/or mediation session with the complainant and respondent.
If a formal complaint process is preferable, or an informal complaint process has failed, the Responsible District Officer will help the complainant file cases with the Equal Opportunity Commission for employment-related claims, or the Office for Civil Rights for non-employment related claims, and answer questions about seeking further legal representation.
For a complete explanation of the unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment complaint and investigation procedures, please visit the following website:
Which Birth Control is Right for You?
Self-Care for Students
Figuring Out the Best Option
To help navigate the many options for birth control, The BCC Voice conducted an informal survey through social media, asking women which birth control methods they preferred and why.
There are pros and cons to every variety of birth control, and some are more popular than others. As with any type of medication, there can be complications and side effects that aren’t for everyone. With this in mind, The BCC Voice offers a mix of survey responses from women and girls, information from Planned Parenthood and personal experience to help you figure out the best option for you and your body.
One of the most popular types of birth controls is "the pill." A hormonal birth control pill is taken orally every day, providing a regular distribution of hormones within a woman’s body. There is a common belief that the pill must be taken at the same time every day or else it will be detrimental to a woman’s body. Ideally, the pill should be taken at the same time every day so that it becomes a habit. If a woman forgets to take her pill one or more days, she can run the risk of having imbalanced hormones or a higher chance of getting pregnant. If a woman has skipped the pill for a day or more, there may be physical complications that can end up making the pill the wrong form of birth control for her. If there isn’t consistency in taking the pill, then there may be a surge in hormones which can cause irregular periods or other physical problems.
Hormonal birth control creates a balance of estrogen and progestin, which prevents the body from ovulating. I have tried two varieties of the pill, Natazia and Lo Loestrin Fe. Natazia helped with my period cramps, but made me break out with acne. That’s why I moved on to Loestrin, which helped with cramps and with acne. However, if I forget to take it, my body reacts negatively. I start bleeding right away and it takes about a week for my body to get back onto a normal hormonal track.
Many women use the pill as a stepping stone for other types of birth control because they don’t want to have to remember to take the pill every day. They would rather have a less mindful process when using birth control.
Some women who took our survey use NuvaRing, a flexible piece of plastic that releases a low dose of hormones to keep them from ovulating. Unlike the pill's daily regimen, the NuvaRing requires only monthly replacement. According to Planned Parenthood's website, the NuvaRing "is used for three weeks and then disposed the fourth week. After that, another NuvaRing is re-inserted and the process starts all over again."
The NuvaRing seems easier to use than the pill, because you don’t have to remember to take it every day. But the NuvaRing intimidates me because of the insertion every three weeks. I would be worried that I would forget or mess it up. Many women aren’t intimidated by this form of birth control, though, and it is a popular option.
Some of the negative side effects of the NuvaRing, according to the women taking the survey, include "major headaches that wouldn’t go away after multiple hours — even with Advil and Tylenol." One women added that her partner could feel the NuvaRing during sex and it was uncomfortable. If a woman takes out her NuvaRing for sex, it’s recommended by Planned Parenthood that she doesn’t leave it out for more than three hours, although the NuvaRing shouldn’t be taken out before the three-week period is over.
Another popular form of birth control among survey respondents was an implant in the arm. Similar to the NuvaRing and the pill, this form has progestin in it. It is inserted by a doctor and then left in for up to four years. Planned Parenthood has written that "the progestin in the implant keeps the woman from ovulating as well as thickening the mucus in the cervix." The thickened mucus essentially stops the sperm from meeting the egg and swimming through to make the woman pregnant.
The way the implant is inserted is similar to a shot, in that it feels "as though a needle is being pushed into the arm," as shared by one survey respondent who has the implant. Many women have the area numbed before they get the implant, which is about the size of a matchstick. The arm may be bruised for about a week or two after insertion, but all in all this form of birth control is one that you wouldn’t have to think much about.
Another popular form of birth control among the women surveyed is an intra-uterine device, or IUD. The IUD is "99 percent effective in terms of stopping pregnancy," according to Planned Parenthood, but it can start off as the most painful. An IUD is inserted by a doctor and blocks sperm from reaching the uterus. There are multiple accounts of women who have had their periods stop altogether, while other women have said they bled for months after the IUD was inserted. Non-hormonal IUDs, or copper IUDs, can be left in for up to 12 years, whereas hormonal IUDs can be kept in place from three to six years. The IUD kind of looks like a mix between a "T" and a "Y." There is a tail and two arms sticking out that block sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes.
Once an IUD is inserted, most women don’t have to think about it. However, it can cause a lot of pain during the first two weeks. About half of the women surveyed who use an IUD said they had "bad cramping for a week after the birth control was inserted and it was a very painful process getting the object inserted." After about a week and a half, they said that the pain went away, and now they don’t even think about their birth control.
While the birth controls presented here are highly effective, they do not protect women from sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) caused by bacteria or yeast, or diseases (STDs) such as HPV, AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes and more. If either partner has an STI or STD, condoms should be used to protect both people from infection. Birth control isn't just for women. Men should use condoms, which is great birth control that can not only stop pregnancy, but can also prevent disease and infection, and is recommended even when a woman is on birth control. Condoms are available for free in Berkeley City College's Wellness Center.
Health and Wellness
Helpful tips to keep you fresh and energized throughout the day
Eat breakfast every single day!
Keep healthy snacks like fruits and nuts in your backpack.
Do breathing exercises. Whenever there is time to kill, just take a few deep breaths.
Limit sugary foods and caffeinated beverages.
Photo Credit: Welcome Images
Photo Caption and Credit could be placed here. This image is a placeholder
story by NOA MEISTER
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I wake up at 5 a.m., I leave the house at 6 a.m. and don’t come back home till 9 p.m. at night.
Allyson Flores, second year student at BCC
story + photo by NEHAL MOTIWALA
Student Wellness Resources At BCC And In Berkeley
Upon entry through the unusually heavy doors of Berkeley City College, you’re presented with a diverse range of students whose hectic lives are easily detectable with one quick glance. An overburdened backpack on one shoulder, a yoga mat rolled up and hanging off of the other. In one hand, a leather-bound weekly planner crowded with sticky notes of all different colors, in the other, a 32-ounce hydro-flask brimming with coffee.
Being a student comes with a significant load of responsibility. Being a college student, adjusting yourself into a lifestyle of self-sufficiency and working a part-time job, all while getting used to more rigorous academic courses, only adds to that weight. Whether you’re working on your associate degree, taking general education courses to transfer to a four-year college, or just taking classes for fun, it’s never just school.
Here is the life of a BCC student with an overwhelmingly busy schedule, and how she manages it.
Allyson Flores, a second year student at Berkeley City College is currently working towards transferring to a four-year college. This semester she’s taking five classes, seventeen units altogether, while working 20 hours a week at her job as a theater technician. Some of her classes are even at a different campus. "On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I wake up at 5 a.m.," shares Flores, "I leave the house at 6 a.m. and don’t come back home till 9 p.m. at night."
Often, BCC students don’t take advantage of the resources they have that are provided specifically to make their lives as students easier. For example, many students have no idea they are eligible for an AC Transit EasyPass, a free transit card usable on all AC Transit buses. The pass holds $41 in value, and you can pick yours up from the student store whenever you want. The cost of the pass is included with your tuition, whether you take advantage of it or not.
The BCC Wellness Center is also included in your tuition fees and has free massages and acupuncture every Tuesday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.. If you’re stressed out and need a break, that's the place to go. The Wellness Center is located at 2000 Center St. Ste. 200, right next to K’s Coffee. For more about the BCC Wellness Center, "Who Wants a Free Massage?" on the BCC Voice website:
Yoga to the People, located at 64 Shattuck Square in Berkeley, next door to the PIQ Berkeley cafe, is a donation-based yoga studio, which follows a "pay what you can" system. Classes are an hour long and are held every two hours. If you don’t want to lug a yoga mat around, you can borrow a mat from them. It’s the perfect way to incorporate a workout between classes to keep you from feeling sluggish in the afternoon.
Going to school is a huge responsibility, and when we’re trying to keep up with our grades, we can forget to take care of ourselves. Take advantage of the free resources available and remember that your health and wellness matters!
Portugal. The Man, has infiltrated pop radio with cleverly melodic political dialect.
Pooja Shori, BCC student
Make Easy Money and Shop Ethically
story by YASRAB KHAN
story by SUMMER VODNOY
What's Behind the Pop Hooks That Dominate the Radio
The author browses the racks at a thrift shop. Photo Credit: Darcey Davis
To a lot of people, most of the music played on the radio is one dimensional, a type of heavily processed rhythm with no real substance, overplayed themes of love or sex, made to gain profit. Recently, there's been an abundance of celebrity figures, such as popular musicians, taking a political stance, which has led a discussion on the inclusivity of politics and entertainment. Politics in music is not anything new; from Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A" and Michael Jackson's "They Don’t Care About Us," to Green Day’s "American Idiot," it's evident that music can be politicized. Once in a while, however, a song will top the charts and have everyone singing along, without knowing that the underlying meaning is melancholic and more politically involved than the upbeat tune would imply. I’m referring to Portugal. The Man’s hit song "Feel it Still."
The optimistic, happy tempo masks the darker message within the song, about a time of political unrest and instability, and how it lingers long after. When asked by NME, a British music magazine, about the inspiration behind the lyrics, the band stated the Civil Rights Movement, war protests and LSD testing as events in 1966 that helped shape the chorus line. As for the year of 1986, they listed the emergence of New York hip hop and the Beastie Boy’s album "License to Ill" in particular, stating that it was about "essentially a rebel just for kicks."
The BCC Voice consulted with Berkeley City College student Pooja Shori, a self-described "music enthusiast." She is a religious radio listener and her favorite genre of music is pop. Shori considered what "Feel it Still's" traction means for pop music in 2018. "Portugal. The Man," she said, "has infiltrated pop radio with cleverly melodic political dialect."
Shori shared that she first got to know the message behind the song from the popular music streaming app Spotify, which collaborated with Genius, a "music intelligence" company, to share with listeners what the artists were feeling when they created the tracks, and reveal the inspiration behind the lyrics. Introducing the artists' own perspective has been a huge eye opener for many Spotify users.
"It’s definitely necessary to combine politics and music," says Shori, "music has always been influential, and especially in this political climate; it's songs with a message that really contribute to our society. When songs like this are played on the radio, it not only provides entertainment for the audience, but effectively educates them in a creative manner."
Another song that shares a similar theme is Foster the People’s "Pumped up Kicks." This song also reached a high rank on the billboard charts and its upbeat tune and catchy chorus had listeners oblivious to its darker meaning about the mind of a psychotic kid wanting to shoot up a school, in response to the increasing gun violence across the United States.
Mark Foster, front man of Indie Rock group "Foster the People," explains in a 2011 Rolling Stone interview that he feels youth are becoming more isolated and that this has become an epidemic. He compares the perspective in "Pumped up Kicks" to how Truman Capote took on the killer’s perspective in "In Cold Blood," and states that it’s about teen psychology and the growing mental illness among this new generation. Foster wanted to create a dialogue that would get people talking about the current state of America, and he did indeed get a reaction. The song was so controversial that it was banned from some U.S. radio stations, for insensitivity in the wake of so many school shootings.
Songs like these raise the question of the inclusion of politics into entertainment and whether it belongs there or not. Some believe it is beneficial for popular music to reflect the news media, while others may believe the opposite, that politics and music are separate and combining them can be inappropriate. A lot of the time, music is viewed as an escape from reality and making a song political can feel counterintuitive to some, while feeling revolutionary to others. Songs like "Feel it Still" offer a kind of compromise that can have you thinking critically about current affairs while still dancing along.
Depop is a fresh new app allowing people to clean out their closets and grow their wallets by listing clothes they never wear, instead of letting them collect dust or throwing them away. Some people simply use the app to clean out their closets and be done, while others take it to the next level and use Depop as a full-time job.
Since its start in 2011, Depop has collected 7 million users, with 10 million items listed worldwide. Users like @internetgirl and @yeeshvintage have over 350,000 followers, according to their depop shops, and list new items daily. They use Depop as their main source of income instead of a more traditional job. The app is also a great way to shop ethically for fashionable new clothes.
Created by Simon Beckerman, Depop aims to combine shopping with social media. It’s kind of like Instagram for thrifters. The interface is easy to use and you can like items to save them for later, search for specific items and browse popular items from users worldwide on the explore page. The selling process is easy as well — when someone buys one of your items, you package it, print out the postage, tape it to the package and bring it to the post office. Simple as that.
"Depop is much easier to use than other clothing apps," says Shannon Choi, a Grossmont College student, "and is a great way to clear out your closet." Choi shared with The BCC Voice that she sold 14 items in the summer of 2017, before she moved to San Diego. It helped her with her moving expenses as well as her college expenses. In her short time using the app, she was able to gain almost 200 followers while decluttering her closet and making bank.
Depop makes it easy to start your own small business. "Depop is my main source of income and what I use to support myself as a high school senior," says Erika Colunga, a popular Depop seller. In an interview with The BCC Voice, Colunga explained, "Depop helped me pay for all of my needs, like my ACT tests, school supplies and college-related things." Colunga has gained a following of almost 4,000 people during her two years of using Depop. She started off selling old clothes from her closet and then started to thrift for her inventory. While thrifting, she looks for cute and trendy clothes that she thinks her followers will love. She runs her Depop business all by herself, thrifting the clothes, modeling them and sending out her items. It allows her to make money and accommodate her busy schedule.
"I love the entire process," says Colunga, "I love modeling the clothing, listing the items, communicating with customers, packaging and receiving feedback. I love making my shoppers happy — it is honestly the most satisfying feeling. I love the customer service that Depop provides, its sense of community and the opportunities it brings my way." She is a prominent advocate for all the benefits of Depop.
Shannon Choi and Erika Colunga shared with The BCC Voice some insider tips to help increase sales:
"Modeling your clothes and having a nice background helps you stand out from other users," suggests Choi, "and maintaining a unique aesthetic is essential, whether it be through a quirky backdrop or different, unique poses."
"Model when there is bright lighting, around 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.," Colunga said. Choi suggests modeling "against a cute brick wall or inside your bedroom against your favorite posters."
Colunga also stresses the importance of your description. Add as much detail to your descriptions as possible, and make sure to list all flaws and imperfections so people don’t give you bad reviews. Including the size, fit, and garment measurements really helps to make a good description. Also, including styling suggestions can help the buyer imagine how they might use the item.
Choi emphasizes the importance of listing consistently so your shop shows up on the homepage more often. She adds that this is also a great way to gain more followers.
Both Choi and Colunga say to have fun with it. Fun pictures and descriptions help you stand out from everyone else.
Depop is not only great for selling your old clothes, but for buying new ones. Users can buy items from popular brands like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Adidas. By purchasing clothes on Depop, you are not supporting fast fashion, but are instead supporting small businesses. You can find specific items on the app for much less than retail price. Instead of wasting money on trends that will be out of fashion in the next couple months, you can buy it for cheap and support young entrepreneurs.
There is a lot to get out of Depop. Whether it’s buying trendy new clothes or getting rid of old ones, you are supporting small businesses, young entrepreneurs and recycled fashion! What more can you ask for? Check out the app on the Apple App Store, Google Play, or at depop.com.
Photo Credit: Pooja Shori
story + photo by MATTHEW STRICKLAND
Finding a good place around Berkeley City College campus to sit down and focus on your work is hard at any time of the day, and is nearly impossible during college hours. Even going home is an inconvenience if you don’t live near the college. Thankfully, there are a lot of good places in Berkeley that provide a nice relaxing atmosphere to study and maybe even get a bite to eat.
85°C - 21 Shattuck Square, Berkeley, Calif.
85°C is a cute bakery and cafe that is anything but little. Sitting on the corner of University and Shattuck across from Citibank, this Taiwan-inspired bakery is bigger on the inside. Most of the seating areas are pushed off to the side making the restaurant look very spacious. There is an upstairs which overlooks the whole restaurant and you have the option to sit right next to the railings or at one of the bigger tables if you’re with a friend.
People’s Cafe - 61 Shattuck Square, Berkeley, Calif.
If you find comfort in being near other people, then the appropriately named People’s Cafe is the place to be. People’s Cafe is compact, and finding a place to sit can be a challenge, but its small size makes the space cozy. The constant chatter of all the customers inside creates a sort of white-noise effect, and since it’s almost always crowded, so the barista won't notice if you slink inside without buying anything.
The Berkeley Public Library - 2090 Kittredge St., Berkeley, Calif.
If you’re seeking some peace and quiet, look no further than the Berkeley Public Library. The BPL is an ideal place because it has many resources you can utilize for free (but make sure you apply for a library card first). The library has six floors with multiple desks at which to sit. Most of their desks have or are near a power outlet so you can keep your phone and laptop fully charged. The only downside to the BPL is the fact that eating and drinking are prohibited, so if you’re the kind of person who likes to snack, this place might not be for you. Dominic Abney, a BCC student who recommended the BPL to me, said of the library, "It’s one of the few places I go where I can both study for a test and relax to the point of completely forgetting my worries."
Paris Baguette - 2150 Shattuck Ave. #110, Berkeley, Calif.
Paris Baguette is similar to 85°C except that it offers pastries from France rather than Taiwan. Fortunately, it's close to the BCC campus. Head east on Center Street and you'll find the cafe immediately on your right, once you hit Shattuck, nestled within the Chase Bank building. Despite being so close to the campus, Paris Baguette is usually empty.
BCC student Keiline Vertiz shared with The BCC Voice that Paris Baguette is her favorite place to hang out between classes. "The staff usually doesn't notice or care if you sit down without spending any money, so I don’t have to cry constantly over my empty wallet," Vertiz said of her main spot.
Pegasus Bookstore - 2349 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, Calif.
Although Pegasus Books is small, its bright blue façade is hard to miss. Because the store does not have WiFi, it isn’t ideal for studying, but it is a great place to pass time or do homework that doesn’t require the internet, which you can do on the table and chair in the store's upstairs. Pegasus Books is like a secret garden without the garden part. It’s mostly empty, save for two or three people browsing. Added bonus: there’s a friendly cat that wanders around the store and likes to sit in laps.
Where to Hang Out Around BCC
Your New Favorite Place
Activities Around the Bay
It's one of the few places I go where I can both study for a test and relax to the point of completely forgetting my worries.
Dominic Abney, BCC Student, about Berkeley Public Library
Due to the demands of academic pursuits, students often ignore recreation. This can affect productivity and tax mental capacity. For students living on a budget, it may seem that recreation is out of the question.
However, even with limited transportation and budget constraints, the Bay Area offers many day trips and local getaway opportunities. Even without a car you can get to some great places. There are day trips and rewarding activities that are readily accessible via public transportation. The Bay Area has some of the best public transportation in the state, so take advantage of local transit and live it up. [See also "Health and Wellness: Self-Care for Students" on page 11 of this issue for information about the AC Transit EasyPass, free for BCC students.]
The BCC Voice consulted David Davenport, an urban transportation planner who has worked with the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District for the past decade. He has a degree in City and Regional Planning from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. A Berkeley Calif. resident, Davenport has some great suggestions for accessible urban and rural activities. "With the public transportation available in the Bay Area there is no reason we can’t enjoy some of the great places that the Bay has to offer," Davenport explained. He also points out the reduced carbon footprint and the advantage of avoiding DUI’s when using public transportation. Davenport is knowledgeable when it comes to activities in the East Bay, Marin, the North Bay and the Peninsula. "We have great day trip and overnight activities around the bay," states Davenport, "So, there is no reason to feel you can’t have some fun," adding, "Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego have public transportation, but it is not as networked. Bay Area transportation works very well." He suggests some local activities involving the East Bay Regional Park District. There are AC Transit buses available to provide transportation to Tilden Park and the numerous activities offered there. Whether a trip to the carousel, the miniature steam trains, Lake Anza, the golf course, the botanical gardens or the many scenic hiking trails, there is fun to be had.
The Chabot Space and Science Center is also a great destination. The Planetarium replicates astronomical events — an indoor show that is spectacular and educational. The Laserium is a fantastic laser light show set to a musical theme. A popular theme is Pink Floyd, a visual treat. AC Transit offers easy access to the Space Center, which makes this an inexpensive, yet rewarding outing. Be sure to check out the $5 First Fridays deal.
Davenport emphasizes that transit links are easily made from San Francisco and Marin. At BART's El Cerrito del Norte Station, bus route 40 to the San Rafael Transit Center opens up limitless possibilities. From San Rafael you can travel north to Napa, Sonoma or Mendocino counties. Many routes are available from Market Street in San Francisco, including routes to the North Bay, Point Reyes, Stinson Beach, Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais. You can arrange for accommodations through Airbnb and take a bus to Stinson Beach for an easy-to-reach, car-free getaway. Consider camping at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, which is great for hiking and home to the Inkwells swimming hole.
The Bay Area offers day trips and overnight getaways within reach via public transportation. AC Transit's Line F goes from Berkeley to the Trans Bay Temporary Terminal Station in San Francisco, or you can take BART to the Embarcadero station. It is a short walk to the F Muni train, which runs along the Embarcadero, for access to San Francisco's historic streetcars, which are fun to ride and worth the wait. Take note, this route alternates between modern buses and the classic streetcars. Trips are offered about every ten minutes. Along the route are sites like the San Francisco Ferry Building, from where you can access Tiburon, Sausalito, Jack London Square, Angel Island and Vallejo via ferry. A ferry ride is a good way to catch some spectacular views of the bay and offers a new perspective of the eponymous geographic feature. If you are willing to make reservations well in advance, there is even camping available on Angel Island.
The F Line travels along the water front, delivering you to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can enjoy local seafood and take in the waterfront sites. Consider picking up a hot loaf of sourdough and some butter at La Boudin Bakery. Sourdough is a San Francisco staple. The giant fish sandwiches at Polly’s are big enough to fill up two hungry people. Take a walk along the wharf and check out the fishing boats. Breathe in the sea air and experience classic San Francisco.
Pier 39 is a collage of various shops, artists and street performers. The sea lions are often part of the show. Though it is a tourist trap, you will have a blast. Fun is to be had for locals, tourists and new arrivals to the Bay Area. If you have never been, it is worth the trip. You can catch the ferry from Oakland to here as well.
Do some exploration close to home and make the best of your limited budget. There is some great recreation to be had. Don’t let lack of transportation impede your fun.
story + photo by AMINA KHAN
A Closer Look at Its Quirky History
Photo Credit: Dave Weiland
The UC Theatre in 1942. Photo Courtesy of Berkeley Architectural Historic Association
Where can you catch The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight, hear the latest feature film echo through a room with a capacity over 1,000 people, and sneak in turnip cakes from the Chinese restaurant across the street? The UC Theatre Taub Family Music Hall back in the '60s, long before its doors shut in 2002.
The UC Theatre first opened 1917, a time when world-wide cinema was shifting from one-reel films to longer feature films. At the time of the grand opening it had "the largest screen this side of the Mississippi" says UC Theatre General Manager Mathew Smith in an interview with The BCC Voice. During the mid-to-late century, the theatre played new films every week, both foreign and domestic.
Many of the Bay Area’s famous musicians frequented the theatre in their youth — bands such as Rancid, Green Day and even beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams, who some believe was wildly influenced and inspired by the theatre. Honoring a previous vow, film director Werner Herzog once ate his own shoe on stage. Alice Waters, owner of Chez Pannise, prepared the shoe. According to a film made by Les Blanc in 1979, the shoe was cooked in herbs and spices for hours, but Herzog decided not to eat the sole.
Around 1999, says Smith, there was a dispute between the landlord and Landmark Cinemas, the owner of the business at the time. The building needed a retrofit because it was unsuitable to withstand considerable seismic activity. Landmark Theaters did not find it feasible to pay for the retrofit on the income of a one-screen theatre, so they moved out and the theatre went dark.
David Mayeri, the CEO and Founder of the UC Theatre we know today, took on the project of turning the theatre into a music venue.
After negotiating for a seismic retrofit in 2015, and with its completion in 2016, the theatre reopened as one of Berkeley’s largest live music venues. Halloween of 2016 saw the revival of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, bringing new life to an old staple in the community.
According to Smith, the venue is now a non-profit organization, and hosts a side project called the Concert Career Pathways Program. The program consists of paid internships intended to teach youths ages 18 - 25 about the technical, creative and business aspects of the music industry.
With over 100 employees on the payroll, ranging from full-time to part-time, and a hospitality staff tending the four full-bars in the venue, the theatre is always active. Volunteers stay busy, helping with IT, PR, and various other endeavors. The theatre accepts what Smith calls "user volunteers" to help out on a show-to-show basis. You can visit the theatre's website for more details about how to volunteer at theuctheatre.org.
"People can expect to see 110 to 125 excellent shows coming out of The UC Theatre each year" says Smith. "We’re really excited to provide a diverse range of entertainment to Berkeley." If you catch a show at the theatre, you’ll know you’re at a venue with a future as rich as its past.
story by JESSE ROSENTHAL
People can expect to see 110 to 125 excellent shows coming out of the theatre each year.
Mathew Smith, general manager of the UC Theatre.