Oberlin Slang

Throughout Oberlin’s history, its students have maintained the habit of giving nicknames to buildings, events, and ideas. Emeritus English professor Robert Longsworth once asked his students to track words used on and around campus. The class published the results in A Decade of Campus Language at Oberlin College: Obie-Speak.

The following list is an updated version of this publication. While far from comprehensive, it provides an introduction to the ways in which students today refer to all things Oberlin.


The basement of Seely G. Mudd Center. The Academic Commons on the first floor has stolen much of A-level’s glory. Once the place to go to study or to use a computer, the basement now houses Oberlin’s Center for Information Technology, the Technology Store, the Writing Center, as well as a small auditorium and study space.


The first week and a half of classes in which students finalize their course schedules. Professors assign class work during add/drop, so adding a class late means playing catch up.


Lord-Saunders Afrikan Heritage House, a program house that focuses on African, African American, and Afrikan Caribbean culture, traditions, and issues. The house also is home to Lord-Saunders Dining Hall, which serves traditional soul food cuisine and other fare.

The Arb

The Arboretum. A wooded park southwest of campus on Morgan Street between Professor Street and the Oberlin Golf Course. Good for reconnecting with nature.

The Arch

The Memorial Arch. Located on the west side of the campus, at the center of Tappan Square, and constitutes the main entrance to the campus from the west. Also a common meeting place and reference point in the middle of campus.


The café in Mudd Center  where students can buy coffee drinks and food and also do their homework.

The bike path

Completed in 1995, formerly an old railroad route between Elyria and Kipton, Ohio, that is popular with Oberlin’s cyclists, joggers, and dog walkers. Stretches 3.2 miles and was incorporated into the Lorain County Metro Park System as part of the North Coast Inland Trail bike path.

Cat cookies

Fresh-baked oversized oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies served at the Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse.


Comparative American studies, a major and a department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Cat

The Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse, a student-run coffeehouse that hosts live music, theater, and improv shows, said to serve the best cookies on campus.


Campus Dining Services operates three main dining halls and several specialty food venues around campus.


Center for Information Technology, provides information technology resources to the whole campus.


Contemporary Music Ensemble, a high-level Conservatory of Music ensemble that performs contemporary instrumental music and tours semi-regularly.

Comp Lit

Comparative literature, refers to a major and a program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Con

The Conservatory of Music, refers both to the facility and to the division.


A sandwich and smoothie shop and grocer in the basement of Wilder Student Union, pronounced “day-caf”.


Experimental College. ExCo describes the governing body and the individual credit-bearing classes taught by students, faculty, and community members.


Fairchild dormitory or Fairchild Co-op. Fairkid (the dorm) is a traditional residence hall, whereas Fairkid (the co-op) is an eating-only co-op run by the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association.

First Year

A student in their first year at Oberlin. Oberlin students tend to identify their class year with a number, more often than by such traditional terms as freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.

Flex Points

A currency credited to students who eat in Campus Dining Services, which they can redeem at any of the dining halls and DeCafé.

The Free Store

A clothes recycling initiative, modeled like a thrift store, that is run by the Resource Conservation Team (RCT) and located in the Asia House basement.

Grad 'n Go

Refers to the ready-to-eat premade sandwiches served at DeCafe. Also called Hot n Ready

The Grape

An alternative student newspaper, published biweekly.


Johnson House, a gigantic Victorian house on the South Campus home to the Hebrew Heritage House program. It is the second oldest residence hall on campus.

Mount Oberlin

The prime sledding location on campus. Although it is only a small mound behind Philips Gym, it is one of the highest topographic points in town.


The Multicultural Resource Center, a college office that serves as a hub for supporting historically underrepresented communities, especially Black, Latinx, LGBTQX, first generation, and low-income students. The MRC works to further inclusion and diversity at Oberlin in general.

North Campus/South Campus

North Campus is the area north of Lorain Street and South Campus is the area south of College Street.

North and South Domes

Small, round buildings east of the Allen Memorial Art Museum where the college provides studio art classes.

Oberlin Crush

Term refers to a Facebook page where students submit anonymous compliments to other students.


An online tool using a single sign-on (SSO) that allows Oberlin campus members to sign on with their ObieID and gain access to multiple applications, websites, and online services. [see PRESTO]


Refers to any Oberlin student or alumnus/alumna.


Refers to the Oberlin College email username and password


A college program through which funds are applied to a student’s ID card that are then redeemable on campus and at select local merchants.


The online library catalog of all materials held by the Oberlin College Library. Stands for the Oberlin Bibliographic Information System.


The Oberlin College Mail Room. OCMR describes both the facility in the basement of the Student Union and a student’s individual box number. (e.g., “I’m OCMR 4631.”)

Off Campus

Both a status and a location. A small number of seniors have off-campus status each year, allowing them to rent from individual landlords and take out their own trash.


(pronounced ‘ah-skuh’) the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association; a student-owned and student-operated nonprofit corporation that provides at-cost housing and dining services to Oberlin students. This crew has its own set of terminology and acronyms; a few of which we explain here:

  • BBC: Brown Bag Co-op
  • Commando: Intensive weekly cleaning of a co-op
  • Co-oper: Any student who belongs to a co-op instead of the Campus Dining
  • Crew: The thorough cleaning of a co-op after every meal
  • Old B: Old Barrows, a living and dining co-op on South Campus
  • Special meal: Weekly meals in co-ops that usually have a creative twist to them and are a favorite, yet labor-intensive activity
  • TWC: Third World Co-op (often pronounced “twick”)

A prospective student at Oberlin.

The Rat

A shortened form of the Rathskeller, formerly a faculty-staff-student restaurant in the basement of the Student Union. The Rat (or Rath, depending on who you ask) is now gathering place for students to host small group meetings, join study groups, receiving tutoring, or relax.

The Review

The Oberlin Review, the official weekly student-run newspaper.


Refers to Wednesday nights at the ’Sco where the cost for a pitcher (of beer) is half off. This is routinely one of the most attended nights at the campus disco.


Stevenson Dining Hall; the all-you-can-eat facility on North Campus.

The ’Sco

The underground dance club and bar located in the basement of Wilder Hall. Officially named the Dionysus Disco.


Friday afternoons in Wilder Bowl when students gather after classes end to sit in the grassy area and listen to music.


Technology in Music and Related Arts, the Conservatory of Music’s electronic music department in the basement of Bibbins.

Village Housing

Apartments or houses owned by the college for juniors and seniors to live in.


The Wilder Student Union

Winter Term

During the month of January, students complete individual or group projects of their choice, either on or off campus.


Oberlin College and community independent radio station, 91.5-FM, broadcasting out of the Student Union

Womb chairs

While technically known as ball chairs , these round orb-shaped chairs throughout the main library are often called womb chairs , and provide a comfy spot in which to nap and pretend to read.