Berkeley College is a residential college at Yale University, constructed in 1934. The eighth of Yale's 12 residential colleges, it was named in honor of Reverend George Berkeley (1685-1753), dean of Derry and later bishop of Cloyne, in recognition of the assistance in land and books that he gave to Yale in the 18th century. It was renovated in 1998.
Berkeley freshmen are currently housed in Vanderbilt Hall, named in honor of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is home to the Vanderbilt Suite and includes Anderson Cooper (great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt II) among its alumni, though Cooper was actually a member of Trumbull College, which housed its freshmen there at the time.
Berkeley is similar to other residential colleges, with its own gym, television room, and other amenities. It also has unique features:
- Bishop Berkeley Bagel and Beverage Bar: A place where students gather to watch movies, engage in fellowship, and eat freshly prepared food. It is a healthy version of a buttery. The Bagel Bar was founded in the late 1980s by Richard Y.C. Lee (B.A. 1991) (fondly known as "Rich"), who later perished in the attack on the World Trade Center.
- The Thomas Mendenhall Game Room: A recreational room equipped with a pool table, a ping-pong table, and a free NBA Jam video arcade machine. This room is the setting for many late night and weekend hijinks.
- The Swiss Room: A private dining room in the dining hall. Transplanted piece by piece from Switzerland, this 16th-century wooden room is priceless, in part because it has been decorated with stained glass by G. Owen Bonawit.
- The Berkeley Press: A complete, operational letterpress printshop, with a large powered platen press and precision Vandercook flatbed cylinder press, the Berekely Press occupies two rooms on the lower level. Students use it to produce their own books, broadsides, holiday cards and ephemera, and a regular Apprentice Course introduces newcomers into the 'Black Art'.
- The woodshop: A woodworking shop that is well-stocked with power tools and lumber. In addition to being the best woodshop on campus, a professional cabinetmaker comes to Berkeley most weekends to teach students the tricks of the trade.
- The tunnel: A sheltered passageway connecting Berkeley's two grand courts, North Court and South Court, which are divided by a grassy area in front of Yale's main library. It stands steps away from the Beinecke Library, the Commons, and the Old Campus. The tunnel features a variety of student murals on the walls and is a convenient pathway on those rainy or snowy days. There is also a rumor that it hosts a biannual tunnel-jousting competition.
- On the wall outside the Master's House that faces Sterling Memorial Library, there is a plaque stating that its location marks the house where Josiah Willard Gibbs used to live.
Annual traditions include the snowball fight (which pits North Court against South Court), GLO (a blacklight party), and the Bishop's Bash, which was founded in the spring of 2002 by Ben Reiter and Charles Finch
- under the guidance of the Master's Office. Its unofficial rivals are Trumbull
Colleges. One college tradition is the "Berkeley Streak." During the annual prospective student visit days, Berkeley students would streak
from freshmen housing on old campus to Berkeley's North Court. The Streak has not happened since 1997, but will be revived in fall 2008 during freshman orientation week (Camp Yale).
Berkeley residents have the best dining hall at Yale
; according to the Wall Street Journal
, Berkeley has the best dining hall in the country. It was until 2006 the testing ground for an experimental organic food
and sustainable produce dining plan overseen by celebrity chef Alice Waters
. Currently, the dining hall has joined the rest of the residential colleges in serving the same menu, thereby rescinding its unique status. It still remains an immensely popular place to eat, and this is largely due to its central location on campus.