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Structured, Active In-Class Learning, or SAIL, courses are expanding into the humanities.

Credit: Katie Zhao

Penn students speak a language all their own. Before you arrive on campus, check out this helpful list of terms and abbreviations used frequently by Penn students. Impress upperclassmen — and intimidate each other — with your new vocabulary, and enjoy the start of your year!

Your Campus

The Button: A large, white button sculpture directly outside of Van Pelt Library. A popular meeting spot.

The Tampons: A large red sculpture on Locust Walk between 38th and 39th streets that looks eerily like a pair of used tampons (or a pair of lipsticks). Also a popular meeting spot.

DRL: David Rittenhouse Laboratory. A large science and math building at 33rd and Walnut streets that is detested by most Penn students for being far away from mostly everything.

Steiny-D: Steinberg-Dietrich Hall. The Wharton building on Locust Walk between 36th and 37th streets.

The Compass: The large compass built into Locust Walk at the 37th Street intersection. Rumor has it that if you walk over it as a freshman, you’ll fail your first midterm.

Stommons: The Starbucks under Commons

KCECH: Kings Court and English Houses

Your Classes

PPE: Philosophy, Politics and Economics

BBB: Biological Basis of Behavior

HSOC: Health and Societies

OPIM: Operations and Information Management

BEPP: Business Economics and Public Policy

Your Social Life

BYO: Bring-Your-Own. Philadelphia is blessed with a number of restaurants, both in University City and Center City, that allow you to bring your own alcohol and don’t check identification. A popular way for groups of Penn students to have fun and drink together.

Spring Fling: The time when you’ll be happy you didn’t get into Princeton — a weekend that includes a concert, a carnival and endless parties.

MERT(ed): Medical Emergency Response Team, a group of student EMTs who respond to emergency calls on campus. To be MERTed is to be so incapacitated that someone had to call emergency help to take care of you.

Sceney: A difficult-to-define term referring to Penn students who are involved with the “scene” — for example, wealthy students who take Ubers to downtown parties on Thursday nights on a weekly basis.

Downtown: A party held at a downtown location rather than on campus.

Darty: A party held during the day, popular especially during Fling.

DFMO: Dance floor make-out. Can also be used to describe a person to whom this applies.

Walk of Shame: The return to your residence, wearing clothes from the previous night, after staying the night with someone.

Apes, Theos, OZ, Crows, Fiji, St. A’s, St. Elmo’s, Castle, Sammy, Pike and now OAX: Greek organizations that confusingly aren’t known by their Greek letters.

SABS-ing: The act of seeing and being seen. Popular in a number of places, such as the tables outside of Tortas Frontera.


OCR: On-campus recruiting. The explanation for stressed Wharton students running around campus in suits during certain times of year.

SWUG: Senior Washed-Up Girl. A senior girl who is generally tired of college life and ready to move on.

GSR: A group study room in Wharton. Great for productivity, but you have to be in Wharton to reserve one.

Flyering: The generally unwelcome activity of having a flyer aggressively offered to you on Locust Walk by an organization trying to advertise their show/fundraiser/event/startup.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly wrote MERT as the Medical Emergency Rescue Team instead of the Medical Emergency Response Team. The DP regrets the error.

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