Tag Archives: UC Berkeley

Go Bears?

Main Piece:

“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.” 

UC Berkeley Superstitions


“At UC Berkeley, there’s a 4.0 hill that if you roll down it, you’ll get a 4.0. It’s near the middle of campus that’s called The Glade. There’s also a university seal on the ground that you can’t step on or else you’ll get bad grades. It’s also next to the glade, and it’s hard to miss because it’s really big. But people are actually scared of stepping on it, and go out of their way to go around it.


My informant heard this from a Berkely student when she was visiting in high school. She doesn’t know when the superstitions started, but she thinks it probably started as a joke.


This superstition is passed around the Berkeley campus from students.

Personal Thoughts:

I think this superstition really shows Berkeley’s culture that’s centered around grades, and the effort that students will go through in order to earn good grades. There’s a lot of academic competition there, and students are almost obsessed with earning high grades. Because of this, I think it’s natural that superstitions were started surrounding this obsession.

The Berkeley-Stanford Ax Story

In the late 1800s, there were two universities in the Bay area. One of them was the University of California in Berkeley and the other was a small junior college across the bay founded by the criminal Leland Stanford Junior. These schools had a sports “rivalry.” Basically, each year, Cal would Beat the junior college in track, football, baseball, and other sports. The Junior college were running low on money to fund their failing sports program. They were so desperate that they were considering cutting down their redwood tree mascot. However, before they could, a meteor came down and crashed in the sewage at Stanford. This sewage splashed on the walls of all the buildings of the college. To this day, the buildings are still covered with this excrement which give the buildings at Leland Stanford Junior College their distinctive adobe appearance and smell. The female college students decided to take the meteor to a blacksmith and have it shaped into an ax They would use this ax to rally around during sports games. Only the female Stanford students were strong enough to carry it, and to this day, any male Stanford student who is able to lift the as, all by himself, will be crowned King of Bowdell Hall ( the women’s dorm). Anyway, the Stanfurdians brought this ax to the Cal-Stanford games with no effect. During the first football game with the ax, which Stanfurd naturally lost, some Cal athletes watching the game decided to steal the ax for a trophy. They were pursued by Stanfurd students to San Francisco where the Cal students had decided to get the handle taken off the ax,. There was a crazy pursuit through San Francisco. The police searched all Cal students on their way back to Berkeley through Oakland but were unable to find the ax since a Cal student hid it under an old girlfriend’s skirt. The next year, Stanford almost stole the ax back. Cal was just about to catch the Stanfurdians as they crossed a bridge on their way back to Palo Alto, but the bridge was raised before they could cross it. It was later discovered that the bridge operator was a suma cum laude graduate from the Leland Stanford Junior College Engineering school. It was the best job he could find. Cal and Stanford continued to steal the ax from each other. The robberies grew so intense that the leaders of the respective schools decided that the ax would be awarded to whoever won Big Game each year.

This funny story is told to freshman Berkeley students as a means of initiation. The story gives a history of the school, the Ax tradtion, and it’s age-old rivalry with the nearby Stanford, telling how these things came to be. Any true UC Berkeley student or alumni would be intimately familiar with this story and able to recount it as a member of the Cal community. Often the story is recounted over a bonfire to get students excited for the “Big Game.”