A Beginner's Guide to Oberspeak, Oberlin Acronyms, and More
Oberlin really really really REALLY likes its acronyms. And its abbreviations. And generally confusing the CRAP out of people who aren't constantly surrounded by others using the terms. When I showed up on campus as a first-year student, I soon discovered that the community was expecting me to pick up a new language almost immediately. It was daunting, to say the least - but the longer I was here, the easier it became for me to understand the native tongue. Now you can, too! This list is in no ways all-encompassing, but it's definitely a start.
p.s. I'm not alphabetizing, because then that would make this too easy for you. :D
OSCA - the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association. Second largest student cooperative in North America, providing at-cost housing and dining to Oberlin students. Blanket organization for our nine co-ops. If you live or eat in a co-op, you are "in OSCA." Read more here.
CDS - stands for Campus Dining Services. In other words, the group that runs all of the on-campus dining halls and food services. In theory, you can also be "in CDS." This is their website.
RA - stands for Resident Assistant. RAs are Residential Education's in-hall student staff members who are generally in charge of their residents' well-being. They also serve as bulletin board decorators, hall moms and dads, shoulders to cry on, and totally cool people. Well, unless they play loud music at 4 am when you're trying to sleep...but that's another story.
co-op foot - the state of being that your feet get in when you walk around barefoot, i.e. dirty. Oh, how I simultaneously love and hate co-op foot.
SSN - Safer Sex Night, an all-campus event that occurs every fall semester in Wilder Hall, our student union. It's meant to promote safer sex practices - the use of condoms, contraceptives, dental dams, getting STI tested, etc. Fun times for all!
SIC - the Sexual Information Center is a student-run non-profit organization dedicated to nonjudgmental, unbiased and confidential comprehensive sexuality and sexual health education. They also sell condoms and the like for REALLY CHEAP. Like, SUPER SUPER CHEAP.
Stevie - Oberlin students' loving term for Stevenson Dining Hall. They have waffles on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This is all you need to know.
co-op plague - Heh. You know how this works - one person gets sick...so that means everyone gets sick. Cons: everyone's sick. Pros: a whole group of people to commiserate/share tea/cuddle with.
the Cat - the Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse, an on-campus cafe/music venue/sweet study meetup. They have cookies (the best you'll ever eat. SERIOUSLY).
Wilder TBA - the most popular meeting place on campus for student organizations.
JBHMD - stands for "Jake Brody Huffs Mad Dong." Thoroughly undefinable.The acronym has been seen everywhere from Brooklyn to Berlin. There's a back story, but I'm just gonna send you to Oberwiki for that.
connie - loving term for a Conservatory student.
reading period - the two or three days between the last day of classes and the beginning of final exams. Otherwise known as the time when you learn everything you missed during the semester.
OCircus - Oberlin's student-run circus, loved by college students and Oberlin residents alike.
OMTA/OSTA - the Oberlin Musical Theatre Association and the Oberlin Student Theatre Association, Oberlin's two student-run theatre organizations.
CIT - the Center for Information Technology. They fix your computer when it breaks. Offices are located on A-Level in Mudd Library.
the 'Sco - short for the Dionysus Discotheque, but seriously - who's gonna call it that? Functions as a catch-all music venue and dance club. Home of Professor Beers.
Oberwiki - Read it. Contribute to it. Love it.
Mount Oberlin - the second highest elevation in Lorain County. Was created out of the dirt displaced after the college dug some stuff up over by the gym. Pros: SLEDDING. Cons: rocks.
the Arb - short for the Arboretum, a park space located in South Oberlin.
ExCo - short for Experimental College. ExCos are classes that can be taught by anyone in the Oberlin community...yes, that means students too. Examples: Modern American Swing Dance, Chosen: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Storytelling, Introduction to Spying, Combat Robots, and The History and Production of Electronic Music in Pop Culture. More here.
Fairkid, Keeper, Harkie - demonyms for members of Fairchild, Keep, and Harkness Co-ops, respectively.
OCMR - Oberlin College Mail Room; AKA, your box number (located in the basement of Wilder) where you receive all your on-campus mail. Sometimes the locks are hard to open (they open backwards), and sometimes you forget your combination altogether. Hard times in America, y'all.
OCID - Oberlin College ID; AKA, the key to your life. Contains your CDS meal plan, allows you to check out books from the library, gives you access to dorms (sometimes including your room itself), features your free print quota, and lets you reserve group study or student organization meeting rooms in Wilder.
FYSP - First-Year Seminar Program. Some of the most awesome classes you can take at Oberlin. They're designed for first-years and topical in nature. Examples: "What is Mathematics and Why Won't It Go Away?", "A Sense of Time and Place", "Describing Dialogue", "Crossing Borders: The Mysteries of Identity", "The Brain is Wider Than the Sky", "Media and Meaning", etc. They aren't required, but if you don't take one, you are seriously missing out.
All photos by Ma'ayan Plaut