Professors remember their time at homecoming

Originally published on September 30, 2016 for The Daily Californian

For campus physics professor Marvin Cohen, memories of Homecoming formed in two different generations — through the years, he has attended the game both as a student and as a father.

Back in his days as a UC Berkeley student — from 1953 to 1957 — Cohen went to the games with his fraternity. Cohen says the UC Berkeley of his memory is much different than the stereotypes created after the political unrest in the ’60s. Back then, students learned all of the Cal songs and cheers and actively participated in the games

“When I was a student in the ‘50s, it was very quiet. We looked forward to dances and football games,” Cohen said. “(Now), when you go to an event, and the Cal Band comes through, you start hearing those songs, and because you remember them from when you were in college, you start singing along. It’s a very good feeling.”

When Cohen returned as a professor, he often took his kids to see the game. They lived in Berkeley and would make a day out of it. Cohen remembers that both his children enjoyed the games, albeit for different reasons — his son likes football while his daughter had fun walking around the stadium with her friends.

Campus cognitive science lecturer Paul Li, class of  2004, says he still looks forward to the Homecoming game 12 years after graduation.

“The football game is a nice venue to bring out the Cal spirit in all of us,” Li said. “Homecoming is a good way to bring us back to our roots.”

But for campus economics professor Jim Powell, the Homecoming football game does not bring back the same kind of memories as it does for Cohen and Li. Powell characterized himself as being a part of the campus’s counterculture when he was here in the 1970s. He spent most of his time either doing his schoolwork or participating in political activism.

All things in moderation. You don’t want to spend all your time at football games. You don’t want to spend all your time doing your homework,” Powell said. “I spent all time my time doing homework, but I wish I went to more football games.

He went to a couple of football games here and there, but he doesn’t have much recollection of the Homecoming game.

Powell said he does not feel very connected to people he knew in college. For Cohen and Li, however, Homecoming is an opportunity to connect with old friends and familiar faces.

“When you see friends from college, you give them a hug or slap them on the back. And you mention something silly from when they were in college,” Cohen said. “You’re back to a form of communication that’s very warm and very close. … There’s something that happens right away when you see someone from when you were young.”

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