• Michael Colton

Glossary for the Return

Fourteen terms every CU/BC first-year should know.

By Michael Colton


With the semester just around the corner, campus life will soon be back in full swing. If you’re coming to campus for the first time, you’ve got quite a bit to catch up on. But worry not! This vocab list contains 14 people, places, and PrezBos that make our campus what it is. Read it, memorize it, and you’ll know just what to do, where to go, and whom to avoid to make the most of life at Barnumbia.



Illustration by Brooke McCormick

Dodge: Columbia’s on-campus fitness center. It’s small, usually reserved for the Athletics Department, and hidden beneath the SEAS buildings. A fitting symbol for the University’s priorities when it comes to self-care.


Low Beach: Where you’ll eat lunch with your LitHum class for the next four years. Accidentally. Without talking to one another.


“Spec”: Short for the Columbia Spectator, a campus newspaper whose op-ed section has launched the careers of dozens of future TEDx speakers.


JJ’s: Fast-casual dining option below John Jay Hall. The only location at which SEAS kids (still studying) and Barnard students (still drunk) have ever been known to coexist, in a glorious communion that occurs each Saturday around 2 a.m.


1020: A dive bar popular for its weekly trivia nights, cold drinks, and steady crowd of over-served Ph.D. students (Warning: Do not enter if unwilling to discuss Foucault with a hand on your waist).

ButCaf: Columbia’s marquee indoor social space, found on the first floor of Butler Library. Equipped with Duane Reade–style lighting, a chair-to-table ratio of 1:4, and coffee that causes throat cancer.


St. A’s: Intellectual society for the progressive children of oil barons. Fun parties, if you’re willing to roleplay as a caterer.


Deantini: Columbia College’s “Dean” James Valentini, an Instagram influencer with a small but violent following of musical theater kids–turned–Harvard Law hopefuls.


The Kingsmen: Like the Warblers from Glee, if they went to a co-ed school and didn’t need to only accept men.


Mel’s: Trendy bar for OLs and people who are active in their class Facebook groups.


PrezBo: A term used by students to refer to a nonexistent, anti-labor boogeyman with a 13-year-old’s haircut.


EC: An on-campus residence hall with apartment-style housing; Also, the setting of the baseball team’s annual “Turn-A-Blind-Eye” party—open to all, except non-athlete men and anyone who asks what’s in the Jungle Juice.


Senior Night: Every fuckin’ night. Class of ’22 rules.

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