For Berkeley citizens, being centered around University of California (UC) Berkeley has impacts on the social, economic, and political dynamics of the city. When considering how Berkeley High School (BHS) students interact with UC Berkeley, the physical campus comes to mind first. BHS students eat lunch on the Oxford Green and walk through Sproul Plaza to get cheap food on Telegraph. Most Berkeley kids have gone up the Campanile at least once before, whether it be with a camp, on a field trip, or just on a bored summer day. But at the end of the day, how does growing up next door to such a prestigious and historical university affect the youth of its city?
It’s easy to forget that the university has a larger impact on the city of Berkeley than just bringing in cheap restaurants and some nice grass. For one, UC Berkeley is partly responsible for Berkeley’s reputation as a very politically active city. Decades of political movements and change originated in Berkeley, largely due to its passionate and forward thinking college students. Recently, however, actions at UC Berkeley and actions through the city of Berkeley have been separated, often with the university, the city, and even BHS holding their own protests about the same issues, instead of uniting under common causes.
Growing up in Berkeley gives BHS students higher levels of independence and self sufficiency, because we are constantly surrounded by examples of college students living independently. Being in a community that values youth voices has allowed for the BHS community to tackle mature and relevant topics that many high school students across America aren’t concerned with.
It has become much harder for college students to build their lives in Berkeley due to the housing prices. This could be why they have low motivation to care about local politics, and instead focus on national issues.
UC Berkeley should be using some of their resources as a prestigious university to invest in the city of Berkeley. As of now, the “Student Involvement and Opportunities” section of UC Berkeley’s website makes no mention of engagement with organizations outside of the university, which deprives the students of educational experiences. This also wastes a vast opportunity to uplift the city of Berkeley — especially the influenceable, perceptive, and passionate students of BHS.