Whose Park?

Ross is sick of how slowly things happen around here. Help him cut the red tape at [email protected]

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I recently got an e-mail from an unlikely source. Chuck, a high school student from Georgia who is planning on attending Cal in the fall, asked me the standard questions, to which I gave the standard answers. "Yes, overall, I like it here. No, I don't regret coming to Cal. Yes, there is a lot of beer if you know where to look. Oh, and stay away from the co-ops."

What the hell was I thinking? Can I, in all good conscience, let this guy show up at Cal, having been fed the same bullshit as the rest of us? There are so many things wrong with the university, not to mention the half-assed city that it spawned.

When I talk about the university, I mean the buildings, administration, professors and students. I'd really like to just relocate most of these people and bulldoze a good portion of the campus.

First off, where is the mass communications department? Really, why does it exist? It can't only serve the frats and sororities and still have any real use. Maybe it's around to make English majors feel better, knowing that someone else is equally unemployable. Of course this doesn't include those who already have a job. It's just that the first English major I knew would sleep all day and play Dungeons and Dragons all night.

The group of grad students here includes its fair share of worthless individuals as well. One particular group, with which I have some experience, is the philosophy department. The philosophy GSIs that I've seen are either too dysfunctional to remember where they live, or too arrogant to give a damn about your actually learning something. Now, on to the actual campus ...

In between dealing with your everyday morons, you have the distinguished privilege of walking to the next construction site a.k.a. your next class. Please, I would like to sit in Evans and not feel like the drills I keep hearing will suddenly shoot through the wall behind my head. I would also like to be able to walk by Wurster without the fear of being crushed by countless tons of our Architecture Department in the event of a slight breeze. Then there's Dwinelle. Excuse me, but my schedule didn't say "7109 Winchester Mystery House." And don't feed freshmen that bullshit about the feuding brothers.

Ah, yes. The Administration. What do you do every day? At least I work for a department with tangible results. There are probably entire offices and committees that can be disbanded without any noticeable loss. I think that each part of the administration should be forced to justify their existence (and excessive spending) each month. If they fail to do so ... snip, snip. Yeah! Cheaper university housing! Less tuition! More professors (except for the humanities)! Fewer forms to fill out!

The biggest load of crap around here is this ungrateful bastard of a city. "Sorry, you can't build there. No, you can't move that over there. Have you filled out these 38 forms in triplicate?" Lest we forget, that the university was here first. Not to mention that the school, even with its mediocre athletics (except both rugby teams), brings in a hell of a lot more revenue than the "gutter-punk" appeal of Telegraph. No one comes to Berkeley to be harassed by teenagers holding cardboard signs with witty phrases.

What's more pathetic is that the chumps here at the school are actually giving in to the whiners in the city council. Look at People's Park. Cal owns it, but can they do anything with it? No. The junkies and crazies need someplace to sleep so the sidewalk cleaners don't have to roll them out of the way. How much do you think we're all paying to have those things clean a six-inch strip of the sidewalk? The only real uses for the "Green Machine" and the "Litter Hawk" are the jobs they provide to the people who drive them.

I say, put the crazies back in the mental institutions where they belong. Send the junkies (runaways) back to their upper-middle-class suburban homes in Walnut Creek, where their parents can finish raising them. Then, in the middle of the night, go to People's Park with some chain saws and bulldozers. What's the city going to say? "Hey, put those trees back and rebuild that little stage!" I'd rather know that freshmen will have guaranteed housing in something nicer than a prison cell, than step on needles and feces in a park that should be mine to use, but really isn't. When was the last time you used the bathroom there? Played football there? Went over one block to avoid walking by it at night?

Crime would go down, and someone would undoubtedly give the credit to tough gun laws. I wouldn't have to see any more "Bare Breast and Freedom" parades skipping down the Avenue, but I'm sure the Daily Cal would find some way to put the occasional ugly naked person on the front page. People wouldn't have to pay more for a quad than what I paid for a double suite two years ago. Realtors wouldn't take millions of dollars each month from students who can barely afford their books. Hell, I can barely afford my caffeine addiction. Will these wonderful changes ever happen? Not as long as the city can make a puddle of urine into a historical site.

The only thing that can stop this oppression of the students is taking arms against Berkeley residents. We need to rise up now, or forever be held back by the red tape of local government. We may be a state institution, but we don't serve the state, or the city for that matter.

But don't get me wrong, Chuck. I love it here. It's way better than Irvine. You can incite riots and take over courtrooms for a small fine. But try to make a change for the better, and the entire city files a lawsuit.


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