Best of Berkeley: Campus 2022

Lisa R. Parker

Best building: Hearst Memorial Mining Building

Heather Feibleman/File

There’s a reason the Hearst Memorial Mining Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

After walking through one of the building’s many entrances — some of which dive below ground level — visitors are immediately welcomed into its famously vast and open atrium. The building is one of the most unique on campus. Beyond its architectural beauty, the Hearst Memorial Mining Building is more than helpful to the campus student body. Home to the campus materials science and engineering department, Hearst Memorial Mining Building also includes a lot of study spaces with students filled with tables and chairs. 

Unlike other campus structures, which can feel closed, stifling and overwrought with stress, the Hearst Memorial Mining Building is open. It feels like a breath of fresh air, and the large sky-lit dome, marble structures and elegant windows welcome an abundance of natural light. 

— Mallika Seshadri

Best library: C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Photo of East Asian Library

(Sunny Shen/Senior Staff)

When you’re facing a never-ending midterm season filled with papers, projects and one too many late night cram sessions, finding an ideal study space is essential. While UC Berkeley offers a wide assortment of libraries where students can hunker down — or procrastinate — for hours on end, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library stands out as one of the most peaceful and appealing locales. 

Conveniently located just above Memorial Glade, the East Asian Library is relatively accessible for students coming from all directions. If you manage to arrive before the overworked masses (typically by mid-morning), you have a variety of study spaces to choose from. On the third floor, large tables adjacent to nearly floor-to-ceiling windows make for the perfect environment to enjoy natural lighting while working next to a friend. If you prefer a more secluded vibe, the individual cubicles on the bottom floor, though limited, are the best for studying in undisturbed silence. 

Almost every seat comes with an outlet to charge your countless technological devices — a surprisingly rare commodity on campus. As an impressive added bonus, you’re surrounded by more than 1 million volumes written in various East Asian languages. What more could you ask for? 

— Anne Vertin

Best Professor: Robert Reich

Photo of Robert Reich

(Kyle Parker/Courtesy)

Every Friday at noon, Wheeler Hall lights up with the exuberant aura of notable campus professor, Twitter icon and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich. Whether he’s dancing across the lecture hall, recalling his time spent with Hillary and Bill Clinton, acting out his recent Senate hearings or reminding students about how poverty is a policy choice, Reich exemplifies the best that Berkeley has to offer. 

His public policy class, Wealth and Poverty, is a must for all UC Berkeley students given Reich’s infectious humor and lived experience. He allows students to understand and question the fabric of an economically divided America, and offers students — regardless of their career prospects — the opportunity to explore public policy at an introductory level. Reich continues to be one of the most inspiring and distinguished professors at Berkeley, and his teachings allow everyone to learn more about the world around them.

— Izza Ahmed

Best lecture hall: Wheeler 150

Photo of Wheeler 150

(Justin Wang/Staff)

Wheeler keeps winning in terms of our top pick for lecture halls — not only is it home to the lovely Maude Fife Room as well as dozens of classrooms boasting large windows and ample natural light, it includes our winner for the best classroom, Wheeler 150.

Among comfortable chairs, great lighting and convenient campus access, the classroom is one of the best places for your largest lectures. For the lucky folks who get to have class there, no seat is the wrong one. Stay in front for a great view of the lecturer and their huge presentation screen, or head to the back for easy access to the building’s bathroom and exit (We all know one of the worst parts of large lectures is trying to leave with 700 other people. There’s no need for a lecture to remind you of Southwest deplaning.)

If you haven’t been lucky enough to hang with a professor there yet, hop in and audit a lecture — the ambiance might even convince you to sign up for Math 1B. 

— Sebastian Cahill

Best DeCal: Life Skills: Intro to Baking

Photo of baking supplies

(Vanessa Lim/Senior Staff)

College credit and “Cake Boss” coalesce in UC Berkeley’s staple DeCal “Life Skills: Intro to Baking.” The student-led course equips young adults with the practical experience and personal surety to make a variety of baked goods — from cookies and cheesecake to pies and mousse.

Though the reward is sweet, the reality is best not to sugarcoat: This DeCal’s application process dials up the competition to a high level. “Intro to Baking” may intimidate some, as the course has a lower acceptance rate than UC Berkeley. While getting accepted is no piece of cake, the course itself is much more relaxed and lighthearted.

“Intro to Baking” champions growth and inspires confidence, even in its most reticent bakers. Students are split into pairs and spend each week experimenting with a new recipe. Some desserts are more difficult than others, but the repeated trials are all in good fun — and in good taste. Like the breads that you make, you and your baking buddy will rise to the occasion. For its encouraging atmosphere and delicious rewards, “Intro to Baking” offers opportunities that shouldn’t go stale.

— Maya Thompson

Best bathroom: Doe Memorial Library (4th floor)

Photo of a bathroom

(Theo Wyss-Flamm/Senior Staff)

If you’re like me, your bladder is unreasonably small — but no worries! UC Berkeley has plenty of latrines on campus, but none compare to Doe Library’s fourth-floor bathroom, which, while small, is the perfect place for all of your excretion needs.

The bathroom’s fourth-floor location is its prime selling point; just a few flights of stairs (or an elevator ride) up from Doe’s north entrance lies a beacon of serenity. With a balcony overlooking campus, this lavatory is idyllic, whether you’re having diarrhea or a hangover (if you’re 21). Admittedly, one of the stalls doesn’t lock — an unfortunate lesson I learned  as a student library employee — and another always has a custodial bucket in it, yet the ambiance is unbeatable. And, now that Doe’s hours run until 2 a.m. most nights, you know you can rely on this bathroom for the most vulnerable times when you really need it. 

Next time one needs a bathroom break, a nice view or just a workout from four flights of stairs, Doe’s fourth-floor bathroom is the place to be. 

— Stella Kotik

Best student-athlete competing in NCAA women’s sports: Andi Li

Photo of Andi Li

(Courtesy/Sergio Estrada)

After a breakout season in 2021, Cal women’s gymnastics sophomore Andi Li once again set the bar, delivering gold-tier performances all season. Among the team’s most reliable all-arounders, Li demonstrated exceptional tenacity as one of only four Bears to compete in every meet this season.

As the third-ever Cal gymnast to be named an All-American two seasons in a row, Li has already grounded herself among the program’s best. Cal’s highest-ranked all-arounder also earned All-Pac-12 first-team honors in the all-around and on bars, as well as an honorable mention nod on floor.

With 23 scores of 9.9 or better, Li helped the team to its first regular-season conference championship title and several record marks, including its highest score at Pac-12 championships. While recovering from an injury, she contributed to the Bears’ second-place finish and tied for silver on bars.

While Cal missed qualifying for nationals, Li’s outstanding performances kept the team in contention until the end. Throughout regionals, the sophomore earned a first-place finish on bars, as well as second on beam and third in the all-around in both the semifinal and final.

The Bears may be graduating a remarkable senior class, but the contributions of Li and other stellar underclassmen this season signify a bright future for the program. 

— Jocelyn Huang

Best student-athlete competing in NCAA men’s sports: Björn Seeliger

Photo of Björn Seeliger

(Courtesy/KLC Fotos/Justin Casterline)

The Cal men’s swim team undoubtedly had a strong year, reclaiming the national title and winning its fifth straight Pac-12 championship. It’s therefore unsurprising that the winner of 2022’s best male student-athlete is sophomore Björn Seeliger, a key contributor to the Bears’ dominant season.

The 2020 Olympian started the postseason in style, earning three individual wins at the Pac-12 championship and helping the Bears win in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, as well as two third-place finishes in the medley relays.

At the national championships in late March, Seeliger set school and conference records during the Bears’ free and medley relays, helping Cal to one gold, one silver and two bronze medals. With runner-up finishes in the 50 free and 100 free, as well as an eighth-place finish in the 100 back, the Swede added seven first-team All-America honors to the six he earned in his freshman campaign. 

Given his remaining years on campus, more national championships and Best of Berkeley awards are likely in Seeliger’s future. He’s already beaten records previously set by the likes of Olympic champion Ryan Murphy, so expect Seeliger to etch his name among the best of Cal men’s swim.

— Jocelyn Huang

Best performing group: Cal Band

Photo of Cal Band

(Lisi Ludwig/Senior Staff)

You’ve had a bad day. Maybe a midterm went awry. Maybe you had an 8 a.m. class. Maybe your Crossroads lunch was, well, a Crossroads lunch. As you begin your daily trudge down that student-ridden hellscape also known as Sproul Plaza, a tune tickles your ears. At first, it’s a dream, a whimsy leftover from your sleep-deprived night. But then, as your fingers begin to tap and your hips begin to sway, you realize that this is not your imagination. 

Oski is breaking it down, you are dancing and Cal Band is playing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

Cal Band is one of those rare, universally loved treasures at Berkeley. Whether the ensemble is welcoming students onto Sproul Plaza or blasting copacetic vibes during a Cal Athletics event, Cal Band has proved itself one of Berkeley’s best and brightest. UC Berkeley, in all its prestige, can be challenging, stressful and tiring, but it is the work of performing groups like Cal Band which remind us to fight for California.

You came for the brand, but you stayed for Cal Band. 

— Jasper Kenzo Sundeen

Best art gallery or museum: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Photo of BAMPFA

(Cheyenne Tex/Staff)

Rising up from the bustle of Downtown Berkeley, there stands a shining silver cornucopia filled with art and culture. The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, is a haven for museumgoers and film connoisseurs alike. While the museum’s expertly curated exhibitions swap out every few months, the sweeping wood-smooth steps that greet patrons upon arrival remain unchanged, as does the natural light that streams through large glass windows and casts the white art adorned walls in an ethereal late afternoon luminescence. 

Sleek and smooth but clearly conceived with an artistic eye, the allure of the museum’s architecture evokes art deco in tandem with modernity. Even a trip to the bathroom is an opportunity to appreciate the museum’s funky design — the route through the monochromatic stairwell, encased on all sides by signature burnt red-orange, evokes an otherworldly feeling that transports visitors to another world. 

Yet, what makes BAMPFA so special is not its unique edifice or the endless opportunities for community engagement but rather its consecration in film as a medium of art. With two theaters and space for more than 250 viewers, BAMPFA provides the perfect detached environment to absorb films invoking conversation and evoking artistic expression.

— Vivian Stacy

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