Welcome to True Stories
This online newsletter features stories for and by Berkeley undergraduates. If you've attended CalSO, you've already learned a bit about the campus. True Stories hopes to expand your knowledge about some of the opportunities and advantages available to you.
Casey, Sophomore, English/Scandinavian major
Photo by Jenne Mowry.
Casey facilitating the "Novelling Workshop" DeCal class. Photo by Jenne Mowry.
DeCal classes are not listed in the University schedule of classes so be sure to visit the DeCal sites below if you're interested in what classes are coming up, or if you want to teach a class. DeCal courses usually begin during the second or third week of each semester and are graded as P/NP for 1-2 units.
DeCal course list
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Discover the DeCal Program
I initially took a DeCal on a whim. I had recently been introduced to Radiohead, and so when I found a class about the band on the DeCal website I went for it, emailing the instructors a good three months before even the first Tele-BEARS, or enrollment session. I don’t remember what guided me to the DeCal website for the first time, but I’m so happy I found it, because this program is one of my favorites at Cal.
DeCal refers to the student-run Democratic Education at Cal program. Though this program, Cal students can apply and register for classes that are inspired and facilitated by fellow students. Most classes are 1-2 units and graded P/NP (pass/no pass). DeCal classes typically begin during the second or third week of the semester. Students can also apply to teach their very own DeCal. My first semester I took “The Music, Art, and Lyrics of Radiohead,” and Monday evenings became my favorite night of the week, as we discussed, listened to, and analyzed some excellent music. After that I decided that DeCals were great, so on another whim my next semester, I took “Bollywood! A Celebration of Hindi Cinema.” I knew nothing about Bollywood. After that, Thursdays became my favorite day of the week; I now love Bollywood perhaps too much, as many of my friends will attest to.
Towards the end of my Bollywood semester a friend told me about her idea for actually teaching a DeCal on writing novels. I eagerly offered to partner with her since I was an experienced DeCal participant and an aficionado of the proposed material. We went through the paperwork, filed registration papers in office after office, and hunted down a faculty sponsor. Our DeCal, the “Novelling Workshop,” took on an ambitious task but by the end of the semester students each had an extended, formatted outline, which counts for a first draft of a novel.
Teaching a DeCal has been fulfilling to me in a way no other class has come close to; even simply from realizing that lots of other people share my passions. It’s nothing short of exhilarating to lead a successful class discussion, and to see people engaged in something I’ve created. I think these three classes illustrate the vast scope of courses offered within the DeCal program, and I hope I’ve given a sense of the excitement with which the courses are taught. The DeCal program is like a gigantic teddy bear—big, fun, and helpful; infused, as always, with that warm, furry Cal spirit.
Sophomore, English/Scandinavian major
From Morgan Hill, California