Revitalized Charter Day Marks 134th Anniversary

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Students can look forward to more than cupcakes today, as campus organizations and student groups have worked to create a new and improved Charter Day celebration this year.

Though the occasion, commemorating the 134th anniversary of UC's founding, has traditionally been observed as a birthday party-like celebration honoring numerous alumni and student leaders, officials say this year they have worked to get more students involved.

Today's events are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. with cupcakes distributed on the steps of Sproul Hall, accompanied by a variety of performing acts, including the Men's Octet, the Cal Swing Dancers and an appearance by Oski.

From there, the celebration is scheduled to move to Zellerbach Hall, where Costa Rican President Miguel Rodriguez will deliver the keynote address. Rodriguez earned his doctorate in economics from UC Berkeley in 1966.

Many of the event's organizers agreed that this year's heightened effort to include the students provided a much needed change.

"Most students don't know what Charter Day is, so this year there's more of an effort to educate (them)," said Charter Banquet Coordinator Maya Goehring. "The whole day will be focused more on the university."

To pique more student interest, UC Berkeley's Rally Committee revitalized a 1960s tradition of holding field games open to all students earlier this week.

Committee Chair Peterangelo Vallis said the revitalization of "Charter Games" came in response to student detachment from university history.

"Everyone knows they give out cupcakes once a year, but no one knows what they're for," Vallis said. "It is invaluable to know about your university and have an appreciation for it, because our campus does have a rich, rich history and tradition, and few understand it."

The newly added Charter Games, which ran from Monday to Wednesday, included cake-eating, relays and tug-of-war.

"There is a need to bridge the gap, and providing an opportunity for the different sects of campus to come together is the best way to do this," Vallis said.

The day-long anniversary celebration ends with an evening banquet honoring students and alumni, who have demonstrated exemplary service and leadership to the university.

This year, the 2001 Alumnus of the Year award will go to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who graduated in 1953.

Lynne Witser, program director of the Alumni Leadership Scholarship, said the event, which usually hosts 900 to 1,000 people, attracts an audience of alumni from all the UC campuses.

"Berkeley handles it because Berkeley was sort of the flagship campus," she said. "But it is an event for the entire campus community, an event that draws people from all different areas of campus life."

The banquet will also award the Robert Gordon Sproul and Ida W. Sproul Award to UC Berkeley juniors Wally Adeyemo and Heidi Obermeit, whom Witser said "represent the best of Berkeley in any setting."

Both students will receive $1,500 at the banquet, which will be held at the San Francisco Hilton.

Goehring said that though the audience is primarily UC Berkeley graduates, she hopes the increased effort to create a celebratory atmosphere will relate students to UC Berkeley alumni.

"The student body has changed a lot, but we want students to realize that we are all a big family and should be merging those bridges," she said.

Patrick Campbell, former ASUC President and past member of the Rally Committee, said the events have changed significantly.

"I think Chancellor Berdahl had cake on campus, but nothing like this," he said. "They're definitely taking it to another level."


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