Athena, Doe Library

May all who enter gain wisdom

Athena, patron of Athens and the goddess of war and wisdom, is often portrayed as a majestic woman with a beautiful, stern face. Placing her likeness over the north entrance of Doe Library, a classical Beaux Arts beauty at the heart of campus, was a nod to Berkeley’s early aspiration to become “the Athens of the West.” But legend also says she dispenses wisdom to all who walk beneath her — and will take it away if you leave out the same door. 

Other traditions — or suspicions — to assure good grades permeate Cal lore. In 1930, the campus carillonist played “The Hanging of Danny Deever,” a mournful melody, the last day before finals began and accidentally started an end-of-semester tradition that continues to this day. Review, Reading, and Recitation (RRR) Week, formerly called “dead days,” is a free period between instruction and exams that gives students a chance to study, finalize their papers and projects, and participate in review sessions with each other or with their professors. Students refer to the stone ball in front of the Campanile as the “4.0 Ball,” and rubbing it before an exam is considered good luck. They may avoid stepping on the university seals embedded in Memorial Glade, roll down 4.0 Hill by the Faculty Club, or run buck naked through the library.

No matter how silly the act, or how far students are willing to go, these traditions undoubtedly turn the stress down and fun up — and hopefully give GPAs a boost. 

Explore more traditions that become part of every Bear's time at Cal.

Explore Other Stories

The Big C on Charter Hill

Give me a (concrete) C!

On our rugged eastern foothills,
Stands our symbol clear and bold, 
Big C means to fight and strive
And win for blue and gold.

— Excerpt from the song “Big C,” written in 1913 by Harold P. Williams and N. Loyall McLaren

Lillian Gilbreth

Lillian Gilbreth: A master of human behavior and engineering

By today’s standards, Lillian Gilbreth 1900, M.A. 1902 was a superwoman. She studied literature at Berkeley in anticipation of becoming a teacher — and was the first woman to speak at a commencement ceremony — but her path took a dramatic turn. In 1915, she earned a Ph.D.

Trustees from the College of California at Founders Rock, 1860

Charter Day: A university is born

The University of California began on March 23, 1868, when Gov. Henry Haight signed an act catalyzing the audacious idea that California should have a great public university — one that would serve equally the children of immigrants and settlers, landowners and industrial barons.

Cal's emblem and colors

Cal’s blue, gold, and bear

The university colors of blue and gold were chosen in 1873 by a committee of representatives from each class. Blue was considered because it reflected the sky, student cadet uniforms, and Yale, from which many of the university’s founders and early administrators had graduated.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain finds a home at Berkeley

If Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, had lived today, his nonstop outpouring of observations on American life might fit neatly on a medium-size hard drive.

David Blackwell

David Blackwell: A trailblazing statistician

“He had this great talent for making things appear simple. … That is the ultimate best thing in mathematics, if you have an insight that something seemingly complicated is really simple, but simple after the fact.”