“So, I only say ‘go bears’ ironically. We say “go bears” when someone says or does something really stupid, like when someone walks into a stop sign, like any stupid things. I say it truthfully to alumni when they prompt me to, but I pretty much only say it as a joke. My friends have started doing it as well, yeah, other people on the Berkeley meme page do it also.”
The informant is my friend. He is a sophomore at UC Berkeley and is Jewish. The mascot of UC Berkeley is the bear. This information was collected during a FaceTime call.
This is an example of a subversion of an institutional phrase. Like at most universities, slogans are supposed to be a statement of school pride. However, seeing as the youth like to subvert institutions, students tend to not take these slogans seriously and instead turn them into jokes. In this case, the phrase “Go Bears” has turned from a slogan for school pride into a reaction for when someone does something dumb. The punchline of the joke is “wow, people who go to UC Berkeley aren’t actually very bright, and the school shouldn’t take as much pride in itself is it does.”