Brown A-Z (Part III): Pacifica House to ZipCars!

University Hall

Welcome to the third and final installment of our serialization of Post- Magazine‘s Brown A-Z.  In here we have some vital terms for freshmen defined such as S/NC, UCS, and most importantly sexile (sex+exile=sexile).  Once again, if anyone can think of any terms we missed, or any corrections to our list (we aren’t perfect), just post them in the comment section.  Enjoy!

Pacifica House: Brown’s one and only secret society. So secret, in fact, that you can visit their Web site.

Parking Space: Something you’ll never find in Providence, anywhere. And certainly not for more than two hours.

Patriot’s Court: An extension of Wriston Quad. A bit quieter, in theory. Otherwise unremarkable.

Pawtucket: A city bordering Providence, which is pronounced puhTUCKet, not PAWtucket. The locals tend to get rabid if you say it wrong. The movie “Outside Providence” takes place here.

Pembroke: The northern part of Brown’s campus used to be Pembroke College, an all-female coordinate to Brown. The official merge occurred in 1970, though under-the-table sexiling had been going on for years (See Sexile). Legend has it that if you walk over the seal on the steps leading up to the college, your next sexual encounter will result in impregnation. Or you’ll meet the person you’re supposed to marry here at Brown. Or both. We can’t remember.

Perkins: 1. A beloved pancake restaurant that has not yet made it east of New York. 2. A first-year dorm that is nearly as far away as the nearest Perkins Restaurant. We hope you guys brought mopeds.

Plan for Academic Enrichment: Ruth’s vaguely sinister-sounding plan to ensure that your kids have a better Brown experience than you. (See Campaign for Academic Enrichment)

PLME: Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education lets you go straight into the Medical School without ever taking the MCATs. Pronounced phonetically, like “plee-me.”

post- :  Comes out every Thursday as an insert in the herald and covers music, film, theater, food, politics and campus culture, and are always looking for new talent.

Power Street Garage: Formerly one of the few lots where students could park; now, thanks to development, a place to gaze wistfully as a shuttle whisks you to your car in a new lot far, far away.

ProJo: The Providence Journal. Rhode Island’s largest daily newspaper. They get very excited when big things happen in this tiny state. Remember that “Survivor” guy Richard? Yeah, the one from Newport. He was on the cover of the ProJo for four days straight. Oh, and the’ve won some Pulitzers.

Providence Place Mall: One of the crowning achievements of the previous mayoral administration (see Cianci, Vincent), this sprawling shopping center provides almost everything you need in a 15-minute walk from campus. As long as everything you need can be found at chain stores, a multiplex and a food court.

Queer Alliance: The current name of the LGBTQ student organization. One of the most visible student groups on campus, it focuses on making Brown a more positive space for queer students by providing a variety of educational and social programming. And one or two huge, risque, highly publicized parties that are sometimes attended by Fox News producers (see Sex Power God).

Ratty: The Sharpe Refectory. According to legend, the full name got shortened to “Rat Factory,” and lazy Brown students took it a step further. It has road signs for easy navigation, but watch out for bottlenecks and congestion. Love it; it loves you.

RC: 1. The black sheep of the cola family. 2. “Resident Counselor,” the dedicated individual who will guide you through Orientation, help you adjust to college life, and give you (almost) free condoms, then persuade you not to vomit on yourself (or your roommate) after your first trip to Wriston Quad.

Reading period: Ten (or so) days off between when classes end and final exams begin. You’re supposed to finish up your work, but you’ll end up drinking a lot.

Rhode Island:  Lil’ Rhody is the smallest state in the nation with the longest name (The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations), and now, your home.  You will all learn to love the multitude of eccentricities particular to the culture of the Ocean state from Coffee Milk to Hot Wieners.

RIPTA: The bus. You can ride it for free with your Brown ID!

RISD: Rhode Island School of Design. Brown students can, at least in theory, take advangtage of classes at RISD, but the lack of storage space and the wildly different schedule RISD runs on hinder most Brown students from heading halfway down College Hill. But those who make it into classes at RISD find them to be well worth the trouble.

Rock, The: The John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library. The main humanities library on campus where students spend more time hitting the books than they ever thought possible, probably more because they get lost in the cryptic, dimly lit stacks and less because they’re motivated. Be warned of the ear-piercing, closing-time bell — and remember, if you’re there to hear it, you’ve been working too long.

Roommate contract: This document governs your interactions with your bunkmate-to-be and lays down important ground rules concerning his or her interactions with others. Sounds positively Big Brother, but can make a difference in your life if you take the time to look at it, fill it out, sign it and turn it in. (See Sexile.)

Sc.B.: Everyone else calls it a B.S. We should.

S/NC: Satisfactory/No Credit. The option to take any class “Pass/Fail.” One of the beauties of the New Curriculum. (See New Curriculum).

SciLi, The: The Sciences Library. Fourteen stories, color-coded according to the pH system (“The books get more ‘basic’ as you go higher up”), of books primarily in foreign languages. You’re supposed to have sex on the 13th floor before you graduate (we hear there’s a nice view of the city up there). Also home to the Friedman Study Center (see Frisc).

Sciences Park: The little area between the SciLi and McMillan. Nobody but tour guides calls it this.

Seekonk: A beautifully trashy municipality directly across the border in Massachusetts, with three multiplexes, strip malls, suburban paranoia and every chain store you could ever need. Only 10 minutes away by car/cab.

SexPowerGod: Queer Alliance’s annual, insane fall party. Four years ago, a producer from the O’Reilly Factor managed to get himself inside and shoot footage, and produced a segment calling Ruth and other university leaders “pinheads.”

Sexile: A merger of the words “exile” and “sex.” This is what happens if you have a roommate who wants to invite a new friend over to spend the night. You end up sleeping on the floor in the lounge. If you even have one.

Simmons, Ruth: Brown’s 18th president and the first black president of an Ivy League school. She and her red power suit have a cult-like following among students and her Plan for Academic Enrichment will give this year’s first-years everything we never had. (See Campaign, Plan for Academic Enrichment)

Smitty B: Otherwise known as Smith-Buonanno Hall, it’s one of the main academic buildings on Pembroke.

Spoons: The Assassins-type game every freshman unit ends up playing. You can identify first-years for several weeks because they’re carrying around plasticware. Also a delicious cafe in Wayland Square

Spring Weekend: In a good year, Spring Weekend means big-name bands playing on our very own Main Green, couches on Wriston, lots of drinking and casual sex. In a bad year, expect lots of reverb inside the hockey arena.

Stadium: It’s over a mile away. This would be a huge pain if anyone besides alumni went to football games.

SunLab: Located on the first floor of the CIT, the SunLab is filled with high-powered workstations for computer science students. Good luck trying to get a computer on the night before a big Comp Sci project is due. Or on Friday or Saturday night, for that matter.

T.A.: Teaching Assistant. They teach some intro-level language classes, as well as some courses in math and other departments. Some are helpful. Some are useless. Some will end up dating your roommate.

Thayer Street: Serving as the DMZ between Brown and its real-world neighbors, this avenue was formerly home to a plethora of eclectic shops and a roving motorcycle gang. Now it’s a glorified food court. But Chipotle might be coming soon!

Tom & Tom: The “Juice Guys” of Nantucket Nectars fame are indeed dedicated Brown alums. One of the two Toms comes back every year to talk to Professor Barrett Hazeltine’s management classes.

Trolley, The: A bus disguised to look like a trolley, run by RIPTA, which goes from Thayer Street to Kennedy Plaza and Federal Hill. The other route goes, um, somewhere else. (See RIPTA)

UCS: The Undergraduate Council of Students, which tries really, really hard to be an effective student governing body.

Unitcest: A merger of the words “unit” and “incest.” It’s when you hook up with someone in your unit. This is why “It’s Complicated” exists on Facebook.

University Hall: Come here to meet with deans or visit Ruth during her office hours. The oldest building on campus, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Van Wickle Gates: So important that they’re only open twice a year. (Well, and for most of this summer. But they’re still really important.)

V-Dub: The Verney-Woolley Dining Hall. The junior member of Brown’s dining halls, it’s smaller, more intimate, features a Now That’s What I Call Music! soundtrack, and tends to draw mostly athletes and freshmen.

Warwick: Second-largest city in the state. The airport is here. Not much else.

Watson Institute: The Watson Institute for International Studies. Home of the International Relations concentration and world-renowned research.

WBRU: 95.5 FM, one of the largest radio stations in southern New England and the oldest college radio station in America. Purported to be “the original alt-rock.” We’re not arguing. (See also BSR)

Whispering Arch: At the entrance to the Infant Lab, there’s a stone arch. Station a friend on one side of it, then go to the other side and whisper into it. They’ll be able to hear you as if you were blowing in their ear. (see Infant Lab)

Wickenden Street and Wayland Square: These are two other commercial districts within walking distance that aren’t Brown-related. Wickenden is famous for its head shops and pubs. Wayland is known for its bookstores. Pick your poison. Or mix and match.

Williams, Roger: Founder of this great state, proponent of religious freedom, and now a giant statue in Prospect Park.

Writing Fellows: Writing Fellows suck the pain out of throwing together a paper the night before its due by labeling said effort a “draft,” and requiring that it be “edited” by a fellow student with “superior” writing talent.

Writing Center: Staffed by graduate students in a variety of disciplines, a place you can go to get one-on-one help editing or writing papers.

ZipCar: Short-term rental cars available in the Minden lot, as long as you’re over 21. Kind of lame-looking but actually pretty useful. And no, that ID you use to get into Fish Co won’t work. (Update- Apparently you now only have to be 18 to get a ZipCar.  I would delete the 21 part, but I think the FishCo joke is funny.)


  1. Sophomore

    This is out-of-date, last time I checked you don’t need to be 21 to get a ZipCar rental.

  2. WPC

    You included RCs and MPCs, but no Women Peer Counselors–what gives?

Leave a Reply