Is it safe to be at UC Berkeley?


I have an 18-year-old who just got accepted to Cal and we are still deciding whether it is the right move to study there.

Is it a safe neighborhood? I've read that even walking from the dorms to classes can sometimes be dangerous.  Is this correct?

Thank you.

Parent Replies

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Berkeley is a relatively safe community. It is a city, so of course students need to be aware of their surroundings, but there is nothing especially unsafe about it compared to other campuses in small cities. Whether it's a good fit for your child is another question entirely, and is more about what they want to study and how large a school they're looking for. But I certainly wouldn't stress about personal safety in that equation. If they are mindful of people around them, make smart choices when with friends, and look both ways before crossing the street, they should be fine.

As long as your adult child is aware of how to be aware of surroundings and general personal safety concepts, I don't think this should be a reason they attend or don't attend any university. Berkeley is relatively safe and has a strong safety officer presence if needed. 

Does your child have street smarts? My daughter is 17 and feels perfectly safe in her hometown. Does she walk around at 3am? No. But she is up by campus with her friends at night. You don’t walk around alone, especially as a female, at night. You don’t advertise that you have all these expensive electronics, and you don’t hang out in Peoples Park. If your child is from the suburbs, it might be a different experience for them and it will probably feel dangerous.  My niece really wants to go to Cal and she has absolutely no street smarts, has grown up in an all white California suburb. She will have trouble because she has no clue. But Berkeley is wonderful and is not really that dangerous if you know what you’re doing. 

Hello, we live in Berkeley a mile from campus. In general, I feel very safe here. Yes, crime does happen, mostly theft and car break-ins. Campus has a few escort services at night that students can utilize. And they also encourage students to be safe, aware of their surroundings, and travel in groups, if possible. If your 18 year old can understand how to be street safe (for example, don't walk around staring at your phone), they should be fine. 

As for the educational experience, I think it is top notch. Of course, I am biased as a graduate of UC Berkeley and a current employee... Congratulations to your child for getting accepted!

Agree with the previous response. In addition, Cal has several options for walking students back to the dorms at night. There are also late night bus/tram services, if your kid is across campus from where they live.

My son is a freshman at UCB and we live in Oakland and I am an alum. Yes, it is safe and it is a city. Students need to use common sense about things when they are out and about. There are a number of parent groups on Facebook where this topic comes up often and most parents have been very happy with their kid's safety in Berkeley. 

Reasonably safe, especially if your student avoids frat parties and has some street smarts. It is better to live on campus. 

Having lived here for 22 years, I would not send my kid to college here unless they grew up in a city.  Berkeley is a city, with major problems with homelessness, crime, and trash.  I raised 3 kids here, all in their late teens/early 20’s now. The only high school (3500 kids) is just a couple blocks from the university, and is an “open campus” school, so the kids can leave for lunch, etc.  Downtown Berkeley is a pit.  My kids have been harrassed and even assaulted, just walking around in the daytime.  Dirty, lots of panhandlers, folks sleeping on the sidewalks.  There are nice areas too, but downtown can be shocking to visitors, particularly those from more rural areas.  There are, of course, almost limitless cultural opportunities in this area, great weather, and gorgeous natural wonders… incredible theatre, art venues, food options, but, at a price.  UC is very nice, but it’s also an open campus, so anyone can wander in, sleep in the bushes, whatever. And they do.  I am simultaneously proud and ashamed to call this place home these days.  I hope this helps your kid with their decision.