Words From The Top

Spring Fever

There’s a lot about this campus that’s unique. It’s a public institution with a private school pedigree. It’s a collection of bright young Californians surrounded by hepatitis-riddled street people and arrogant, ugly, frigid, self-hating, pretentious, quasi-hippie…

…pseudo-intellectual, bad-driving, sarong-wearing, think-they’re-worldly-and-spiritual-but-actually-just-obnoxious-and-superficial, frizzy-haired, overweight, 1987 Volvo-driving, make-six-figures-but-think-they’re-blue-collar, tempeh-loving Berkeley residents.

But most importantly, UC Berkeley is the only institution of its caliber that offers high school applicants a second chance at admission.

I’m talking about that creepy and unnerving, yet strangely uplifting, Berkeley program known alternatively on the streets as “Spring Admission” or “Fall Extension.” It’s a program that says “Hey you, yeah you Mr. or Miss High School Senior from Walnut Creek with a 3.8 GPA and 1200 SAT, we kinda want you at Cal. Kinda.”

A Fall Extension student once shared during one of those “icebreakers”–things that student groups are wont to do when freshmen too foolish to know that most groups are just massive drains on resources and thus end up getting roped into tutoring for units–that being a spring admit meant that the university wanted him so much that they made special arrangements just so that he would be able to attend.

He then promptly hopped on a magical unicorn that whisked him off to the land of leprechauns, where he spent the day eating sugared almonds and making love to voluptuous wood nymphs beside vernal pools.

But this academic year, the dichotomy of spring admits and regular admits is even more pronounced. In recent years, while their high school records may be drastically different, fall and spring admits at least could rest assured that they were entering what was more or less the same university.

But these spring admits are entering a university with Cal’s football team fresh off a bowl win, a basketball team that’s well on its way to not making the NCAA tournament, no more of Governor Gray Davis’ too-tight shirt collars, and the end of Chancellor Robert “Iron Crotch” Berdahl’s reign of terror clearly in sight. What has happened to the Cal that we once knew and loved? What has happened?

I’m comforted by the knowledge that, at the very least, one more spring admit that chooses Cal is one less regularly enrolled undergrad at UCLA.

They smell bad.