Located on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft, and extending north to Sather Gate, Sproul Plaza is the locus of campus activity at the University of California, Berkeley (a.k.a. Cal or California to college sports fans). Walking through Sproul Plaza on a weekday, a student is more likely than not to be approached by one of many campus groups handing out flyers and brochures about their causes, clubs, and movements. Likewise, many student publications, such as the Heuristic Squelch, are handed out toward the north end of Sproul Plaza near Sather Gate. The north end is also home to many of the campus a capella groups, who perform at noon and in the early afternoon in the shade of the trees.

On the east, Sproul Plaza is bounded by Sproul Hall; on the west, one will find the Martin Luther King, Jr., Student Union building, the Golden Bear Center campus restaurant, as well as a second paved open area known as "Lower Sproul Plaza." Lower Sproul, so designated as it is lower in elevation than Upper Sproul, is bounded by the Cesar Chavez Center on the North, Zellerbach auditorium to the west, Eshelman Hall to the south, and the MLK building to the east.

Historically, Sproul Plaza and Sproul Hall have been the site of the many protests that Berkeley is known for. Most notably, the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s took place is this locale; the name Mario Savio] is still memorialized on the campus.

Sproul Plaza was once an extension of Telegraph Avenue, which ran right up to Sather Gate. The large circle that lies between the bridge over Strawberry Creek and the main part of Sproul Plaza was once a turn station for the trolley that ran along Telegraph.

Walking north on Telegraph Avenue, past the Bath and Body Works on your right and the Gap on your left, you cross the street and find yourself confronted by a band of chanting Hare Krishnas. They smile and dance around you, and hand you a pamphlet as you go on your way.

As you walk a little further up, past the ASUC calendar, you realize that someone is serenading you. Badly. You turn, and see that underneath the familiar straw hat, it is none other than Rick Starr. He winks at you. You shudder, and keep walking.

You pass under the shade of the rows of trees that line the plaza, and cross in to the open space in front of Sproul Hall. There's a protest going on today, it would seem, just like every other day in Berkeley. A speaker screams from the top of Mario Savio Steps. You wonder what the topic is today: Affirmative Action? Saving endangered species? Sweatshop labor? Freedom to be nude in public? The crowd applauds; it's all the same to them anyway.

People line the pavement, talking, laughing, watching. It's like a composite portrait of the university; the diversity is overwhelming.

Pressing further north, you encounter the student group tables, staffed by alternately bored and zealous looking students. The Indus boys usually congregate near the fountain, the Young Republicans closer to Sather Gate, and the Christian Koreans somewhere in the middle. Sometimes you get lucky and the Army ROTC forces are out, shadowed by the silent figure in the fatigues and the gas mask. Sometimes he carries a sign, but more often he just stares ominously. They largely ignore each other, and so coexist in harmony.

The student bulletin boards on either side are plastered with flyers of all kinds. People looking for a roommate, cheap airfare, rallies, or Friday night entertainment would do well to look here, you think.

But not you. You have better things to do. You cross under Sather Gate, and leave the plaza behind you.

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