Student Life

Wars and subsequent waves of prosperity and recession had a significant impact on enrollment and course offerings, but the greatest impact on students was the college experience as a whole, particularly in Berkeley.

William Carnes (BS ’30) described his experience:

“The general cultural atmosphere of Berkeley and the Bay Area was very stimulating to many of the students who, like myself, had come from smaller places with a frontier atmosphere. A number of performing artists would give concerts on campus to the students for a fifty-cent admission fee. Thus, people like myself who were working their way through got to hear [people like] Fritz Kreisler, Lawrence Tibbett, and even the San Francisco Symphony. Similarly, some of the general public lecturers brought to the campus made a very lasting impression.”[1]

During the past century there have been numerous student publications. The first was Axis, published from 1930-1948 and primarily covering alumni activities. Insight into student concerns and broader issues relating to the profession were revealed in Space (1948-60 intermittent). Some of the “themes” included balancing professional practice training and educational theory; collaboration among allied fields; education and creative practice; and critical questioning of issues of education, practice, and ethics.

The radical politics of the 1960s reflected student disillusionment with government, advances in civil rights, influences from the women's movement, and a heightened concern for the environment. In May 1970 a coalition of students, staff, and faculty from the College of Environmental Design issued its first “unofficial” newspaper, The Organ, which combined with the Wurster Hall production of protest posters by Gorilla Graphics was a direct response to events such as the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, the shooting of protestors at Kent State by the Ohio National Guard, the gassing of People’s Park protestors, and Governor Reagan’s closure of the UCB campus for a short time.

Continuing the tradition of community engagement, in 2009 under the banner of the ‘Landscape Progress Administration,’ several students led the department through a participatory process to identify the actions that should be taken against the state budget cuts. Early activities included cleaning the Wurster courtyard in solidarity with campus maintenance staff at risk of losing their jobs. A group of students from the participation class went to Sacramento to meet with legislative aides to convey their concerns about the budget’s impact on public education and to present our department’s semester of action.[2] [3]

Achva Stein (BLA ’69) provides a vivid description of student life at Wurster Hall:

“[One] student, a brilliant female artist, painter and designer, brought to our attention any new and exciting ideas which were circulating on campus, such as where the next strobe light dancing event was going to occur, or the location of the antiwar and Black Power demonstrations. She had many suggestions for special projects that would challenge the college and university authorities. One of her suggestions was to paint the hallway between the second and third floors in a Henri Rousseau-inspired, primitive, jungle image style (as seen above). The beautiful painting the class produced collaboratively was later obliterated by the usual graffiti, but for a number of years, it was a really enchanting experience to run from the studio to the seminar rooms on the third floor.”

[2] Carnes, William, “Recollections,” Landscape at Berkeley.

[2] McNally, Marcia, “Training to Change the World, ”Landscape at Berkeley.

[2] Quote is from an essay by Achva Stein in Landscape at Berkeley.