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Credit: Joy Lee

Transitioning to Penn is an adjustment, and learning the lingo is the first step. Check out this guide and impress experienced Quakers with your new vocabulary:

The Social Scene

BYO: Bring Your Own (alcohol). Many restaurants in Philadelphia allow customers to bring their own alcohol. This is a popular way for students to go out and drink together in large groups. 

Darty: A party that happens during the day. These are especially popular during Spring Fling, Homecoming weekend and St. Patrick's Day. 

Spring Fling: Penn is known as the “Social Ivy” for a reason, and Spring Fling is one of Penn’s most iconic week of parties, concerts and fun before finals season. Every year, the Social Planning and Events Committee invites a performing artist for a concert; last spring, it was DJ Zedd and in 2016, it was Chance the Rapper

MERT(ed): Medical Emergency Response Team, a group of student Emergency Medical Technicians who respond to medical emergencies on Penn’s campus. Students can be MERTed for any kind of medical issue, but the term is mainly used when a student is too intoxicated to take care of themselves.

Downtown: A party hosted in Center City instead of on campus. 

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

Campus Landmarks

VP: Van Pelt Library, a popular study spot located across from College Hall.

The Button: A large button sculpture outside of Van Pelt where students often meet up. 

The Tampons: Two red, cylindrical structures which are more than 40-feet high and resemble both tampons and tubes of lipstick. This art piece is officially called the Covenant, and was created by Alexander Liberman in 1975. They stand in between 39th and 40th streets on Locust Walk. 

The Compass: Another popular meeting place for students, the Compass refers to the design of the bricks on Locust Walk at 37th Street. Beware, freshmen: a widely known rumor says that you will fail your first midterm if you step on the design.

The Classroom

PPE: Philosophy, Politics and Economics major in the College of Arts and Sciences

BBB: Biological Basis of Behavior major in the College of Arts and Sciences

HSOC: Health and Societies major in the College of Arts and Sciences

OIDD: Operations, Information and Decisions concentration in the Wharton School (known as OPIM until spring 2016)

BEPP: Business Economics and Public Policy concentration in the Wharton School 


The High Rises: The three on-campus apartment buildings between 39th and 40th streets near the Tampons, comprising Harnwell, Harrison and Rodin College Houses.

Penn Hillel: A Jewish cultural center that offers study spaces and Kosher dining options, said to be tastier than the options available at many of the other dining halls. 

Fisher: The shortened term for Fisher Fine Arts Library, the quietest study space on campus. Can also refer to Fisher-Hassenfeld College House, the uppermost section of the Quadrangle. 

Commons: 1920 Commons dining hall, located just west of 38th Street on Locust Walk. The building also houses a Starbucks — commonly referred to as "Stommons" — and a newly launched Amazon store

KCECH: Pronounced "kay-check," Kings Court English College House is known for their dining hall.

NCH: New College House, a newly constructed dormitory that housed freshmen in 2016-2017 and is now open to undergraduates in all years.

FroGro: A popular grocery store located on 40th and Walnut streets, which will be soon replaced by Acme (and the third Starbucks within a seven-block stretch of Walnut Street). 

DRL: David Rittenhouse Laboratory is located on 33rd and Walnut streets. This building is infamous for its distance from the center of campus — a common gripe of many math and science students.

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


OCR: On-campus recruiting refers to the period where companies send representatives to Penn's campus to interview students for post-graduate jobs and summer internships. The service, which is managed by Career Services, schedules thousands of interviews every year. A common sight during OCR are students decked out in suits frantically running across campus to get to their next coffee chat with representatives from companies like JPMorgan Chase and Boston Consulting Group. 

GSR: Group study rooms in Huntsman Hall, which only Wharton students can reserve online.