Returning Students Banned From Bowles Hall

Contact Jessica Lum at [email protected]

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Starting this fall, returning students are banned from residing in UC Berkeley's oldest residence hall, Bowles, in an attempt to bring the all-male residence hall back to its roots of positive traditions and a more academic atmosphere.

Citing reasons such as increasingly rowdy traditions, excessive alcohol use, and unsatisfactory resident reviews, the ban is intended to establish an atmosphere at Bowles that eases the transition to college for incoming students, said Troy Gilbert, UC Berkeley's acting director of residential and academic programs.

"We can really focus on leveraging the Bowles traditions that are positive to make a successful academic transition from high school or community college to Cal," Gilbert said.

While university officials called the ban on returning students a step forward, former Bowles Hall resident Cody Eckert, a sophomore, was set a step back when he found out he had to find alternate housing this fall.

"It's really dumb, and it's ruining traditions," he said. "It's part of their campuswide plan of cracking down on everything ... since we're in Bowles and we have the rap, they crack down on us."

One tradition he said incoming Bowl residents will miss out on is the long-standing, friendly rivalry between them and the Cal Band, a Welcome Week tradition that customarily ends with the band chasing the Bowles men down the hill yelling "pretty foul-mouthed" chants, Eckert said.

"This year it's just a bunch of freshmen who really don't know anything. There's no one to teach them the songs, tell them what to do, who to harass," he said.

University officials have made previous attempts to control the rowdy traditions originating in Bowles, such as a proposal in the 1980s to tear down Bowles Hall and replace it with a new residence hall.

Last fall, university administrators prohibited the hall from throwing its annual Halloween party, which has become a campuswide celebration, but later overturned the decision a week before the scheduled event.

"It's just that guys put by themselves can get a bit rowdy, and that's what caused Bowles to be so criticized by everyone about how it's such a bad environment," said sophomore Steven Lee, a former Bowles Hall resident.

The university hopes to correct this reputed bad environment at Bowles Hall with the implementation of on-site tutoring programs and peer academic advisors, programs that are already installed at other residence halls.

Adding to the new academic services, there have also been upgrades in the living conditions at Bowles, which Lee said were "sub-par" to his current residence at the Channing-Bowditch apartments.

But some students say most residents do not fit the stereotype that comes along with the "rowdy" reputation.

"It's way mellower than the other dorms. Most of the guys in Bowles sit in their rooms and play Final Fantasy 7," Eckert said.

Though Lee echoed Eckert by saying that banning returning students from Bowles is a "terrible idea," Gilbert said that the reaction has been positive so far. He said Bowles alumni have been especially supportive of the idea and of the changes at Bowles.


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