The week before last was Finals week at UCB. All week long, students were sitting around campus, not moving a limb, staring at books or computer screens wherever you went. Hardly a seat available at the cafés outside the various libraries, not to speak of inside the libraries proper, and a huge crowd was seated in a lofty “ballroom”, located behind the café in the Chávez Student Center close to Sather Gate.
On Saturday of Finals week I ambled in the general direction of campus after my usual post-luncheon coffee at Peet’s on Telegraph, not expecting any special activity at Sather Gate, the week having been characteristically devoid of joyous prancing at Sproul Plaza. But I had hardly put my foot on campus grounds when being met by a shock of people, half of them youngsters in black gowns and funny hats, carrying flowers in their hands, as well as around their necks, and the other half, somewhat older, with big smiles on their face and shining cameras on their waving hand.
As Catherine rushed off, together with her parents, I hurried in the opposite direction, to get at least some pictures from the UCB graduation festivities, the main part of which I thought I had sadly missed. When I arrived at the glade, the party was already over and youngsters were again beginning to frolic on the lawn, the main difference being that black gowns now dressed their young bodies – well, kind of.
To those of you, young enough to be able to follow the remarkably speedy sequence of words emanating from Erin, I recommend to listen to the official recording of the student presentation, to be found at:
But now back to our story. When I approached the happy crowd, with the intention to mingle, munch a sandwich or two and sample the champagne, I was, to me regret, not permitted to join the party, being without the company of a graduate. But this was understandable and did not prevent me from documenting this leisurely after-event. People enjoyed themselves greatly under the tents, and in the cool shade cast by the oldest façade on Campus; above it all the Campanile towered, as if watching out for this fledgling school and its joyous events.
In the meantime, let us continue where we left off, with me resting among the sycamores. Alas, it turned out to be a short rest indeed. Hardly had I sat down on a bench under the trees, that a group of cool youngsters appeared, strapping what looked like police straps between the trees. Was I witnessing the scene of a recent crime? Far from it, it was time for the “Slack-liners” to make their entrance. It appears that this is a permanent event, taking place every weekend among the sycamores. Are these UCB students, practising for their finals in a Department or Programme hitherto unknown to me? Or are they just relaxing from their harsh studies by engaging in a demanding hobby on one of the more beautiful spots on Campus? Meriel, the young equilibrist on the line, if you read this, it would please me, as well as the readers of this blog, immensely, if you could place a comment, explaining the rationale of this intriguing training scheme.