GBO, helping new students get their bearings, kicks off Aug. 15

Golden Bear Orientation (GBO) is in full swing today with 8,800 new students arriving at UC Berkeley for a week of training sessions, ice breakers, tours and academic programming before classes begin next week.

students walking on campus, smiling

New students are spending the next week exploring the campus and the Bay Area through Golden Bear Orientation. (UC Berkeley photo by Elena Zhukova)

In its second year, GBO welcomes 6,100 freshman and 2,700 transfer students to the campus this fall. Students were assigned to small groups today, led by student orientation leaders, and together, they will take part in a slew of activities to help new students get to know the campus, including a training session about sexual violence and harassment, discussion sessions, campus tours and evening activities, plus Bay Area outings.

To keep up on the week’s events, the campus has created a Cal events app, free for all to download. Sample schedules are also is posted online on the Golden Bear Orientation website.

Here’s a rundown of the main events and activities:

  • Bear Affair — Wednesday, Aug. 15, 7 to 9:30 p.m. Incoming students will get to know each other better at Bear Affair, where they will gather at California Memorial Stadium to form a “150” on the field to celebrate the campus’s sesquicentennial and pose for a class photo, learn school cheers and take part in other ice breaker activities. (Last year, students set a Guinness World Record for the largest human letter when they spelled a “C” on the field with 7,196 incoming students.)
Last year, students set a Guinness World Record for the largest human letter when they spelled a “C” on the field with 7,196 incoming students. (UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally)
  • Bear Pact — Friday, Aug. 17, multiple sessions. All new students will attend a presentation about issues faced by college students: sexual violence and harassment, mental health and alcohol use. During Bear Pact, students will learn about the resources on campus and strategies to support friends, classmates and roommates.
  • Day in the Bay — Friday, Aug. 17, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. The Bay Area is an exciting — and big — place. That’s why group leaders will take new students on off-campus tours to visit museums, entertainment venues and other places of interest.
students walking on a pathway on campus near the library with the campanile in background

(UC Berkeley photo by Elena Zhukova)

  • Company visits — Friday, Aug. 17, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. While groups are touring Bay Area attractions, transfer students can elect to visit companies and organizations — some run by alumni — and talk about job prospects. This year, nearly 70 companies have opened their doors to visits; several students who participated last year landed internships.
  • Bear Territory — Saturday, Aug. 18, multiple sessions. All students will receive diversity and inclusion training at Haas Pavilion through large group activities, speakers and small group discussions.
Chancellor Carol Christ smiles and high fives students

Carol Christ, who became UC Berkeley’s first female chancellor last year, will lead convocation on Monday. (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

  • Incoming student convocationMonday, Aug. 20, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Chancellor Carol Christ and other campus leaders will officially welcome all new students to the campus community at Haas Pavilion.
  • On the Same Page — Thursday, Aug. 23, 7 p.m. Among the evening activities is a keynote lecture by Margaret Atwood, the award-winning author of The Handmaid’s Tale, this year’s selection as the book all incoming students read as part of the College of Letters and Science’s On the Same Page program. The lecture will take place at Zellerbach Hall and is free to anyone with a Cal ID. Doors will open to the public at 6:45 p.m.