UC Berkeley students sure do have a way with words. Now that you’ve just been admitted to a university with such linguistic prowess, we at the Clog figured it might just be in your best interest to give you a quick lesson in quirky Berkeley lingo before you end up so confused you have to spend the free time you could be using to watch Netflix or catch up on your readings trying to learn every acronym and campus slang word thrown around by everyone from your GSI to that Haas student trying to throw a flyer at you on Sproul. So, to help you out before you even step foot on campus next year, close those Urban Dictionary tabs and library-sized dictionaries of yours and read on for the Clog’s all-encompassing guide to Berkeley lingo you should know before you’re enrolled next year.
ASUC: ASUC officially stands for the “Associated Students of the University of California,” but to us here at the Clog, it actually stands for “Annoying Students Using Cal (To Beef Up Their Resumes).” In layman’s terms, it’s basically like your high school’s student government on steroids. Members of the ASUC take their jobs so seriously it’s almost as if the actual Congress isn’t even a thing. Regardless, they’re still doing great things to make the campus a better place.
GBC: GBC stands for “Golden Bear Cafe,” one of the main eateries on campus that’s located smack dab in the middle of Sproul Plaza. It has practically everything you could ever need — Peet’s Coffee, smoothies, burrito bowls, green books, Scantrons — well, everything except for those chicken tenders they used to have. But that’s a complaint for another time.
VLSB: VLSB is the Valley Life Sciences Building, which is located just west of the Campanile. Despite its name, it surprisingly holds a lot of large political science lectures. We couldn’t tell you why that is, but it still qualifies as a Life Sciences Building considering there’s an actual dinosaur exhibit on the first and second floors. So, after your poli sci lecture, be sure to stop by and wave hello to the T. rex skeleton and remember how the other half of Berkeley lives — studying dinosaurs — er, science, we suppose.
UBCMFET: This is UC Berkeley’s famed meme Facebook page, officially known to outsiders as “UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens.” It’s the first of its kind and has about 191,000 members and counting, and serves as a feeding ground for the development of self-deprecating humor, a hallmark quality of students across campus. Basically, it’s the perfect platform to roast UC Berkeley culture (and ourselves) to make ourselves feel better. Groundbreaking stuff!
Overheard: Speaking of UC Berkeley Facebook pages, here’s another one! “Overheard at UC Berkeley” is basically UCBMFET’s sister page, but it’s essential that you’re a part of it in order to be reminded that every UC Berkeley student has said the exact same thing you’ve been thinking for weeks but have been too afraid to say aloud. It’s also a great way to keep up with what the kids are saying these days for once you start feeling old (which you inevitably will).
GPB: GPB is the Genetics and Plant Bio building, but to us, it actually means you’re about to spend the next thirty minutes walking all the way to the farthest part of campus just to get to that one class or club info session. We don’t really know what else goes on here, but we do know that Pat Brown’s is right next to it, so at least you can stop for a coffee and panini break after all of that walking.
Croads: Synonymous to “gross,” Croads is what’s formally known as “Crossroads,” the dining hall for dwellers of Units 1 and 2 (and sometimes Unit 3 and Blackwell when Cafe 3 just gets too bleh). It’s nothing special, and it’s no Clark Kerr dining, but it will do the trick. Most of the time.
Stacks: Also known as “Main Stacks,” this is where you go when you’ve left watching all of the lectures or doing all of the readings for that one class up until the night before the midterm. Going “deep into the Stacks” is also slang for “I’m pulling an all-nighter, see y’all on the flip side.”
Berkeley goggles: These aren’t your run-of-the-mill glasses. They’re actually invisible glasses that every UC Berkeley student wears whether they know it or not that causes them to believe that average looking people are actually highly, if not overly, attractive (and totally “their type”). It’s like beer goggles but without the drinking. And that’s the perk of living in Berkeley!
EECS: EECS actually stands for “Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,” one of the most challenging majors here at UC Berkeley, but to all of us Berkeley students deeply entrenched within the campus’ culture (re: meme culture), this actually just means that if you’re EECS, you probably haven’t showered in the last few days. We know this is a thing because the meme page says so.
The Glade: Also known as “Memorial Glade” if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands. This is where you’ll find a large portion of students hanging out when the weather turns sunny for a solid five minutes and where a big puff of marijuana smoke looms on Berkeley’s favorite holiday, 4/20.
RSF: This is the campus’ gym, also known as the “Recreational Sports Facility.” Nothing too special. Just a gym, plain and simple.
ESPM: Also pronounced “espum.” Stands for Environmental Science, Policy and Management. If you hear someone say they’re taking an ESPM class such as ESPM 50aC, you can safely assume they’re either a humanities major taking it for their physical science breadth or they’re a STEM major in need of a nice GPA boost before they start applying to internships for the summer.
FSM: “FSM” is Free Speech Movement Cafe, which is located next to Moffitt Library’s third floor. If you haven’t heard already, UC Berkeley is the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, and this cafe certainly honors that. They also have great pastries and a nice outdoor patio. 10/10 all around.
I-House: Also known as “International House,” this is where many of the international students at UC Berkeley reside. Be sure to make a friend who lives in I-House so they can swipe you in for a scrumptious meal (something I-House is definitely known for).
Big Game: This is the big football game Cal plays against our southern neighbors and arch nemesis, Stanfurd, every year. Our two teams go head to head to win a trophy called The Axe, which we haven’t won in a long time, sadly, but the game day festivities before the actua game are always a grand time.
Berkeley time: Here at UC Berkeley, everything actually starts 10 minutes after it actually says it’s going to. And that’s essentially what Berkeley time is. It’s this weird system but blessing in disguise where if your class says it starts at 8 a.m., it actually starts at 8:10 a.m., and if your club meeting starts at 7:30 p.m., it actually starts at 7:40 p.m. It might be weird and take a little getting used to, but you’ll thank the Berkeley gods for it later when you’re trying to spring from your lecture in Li Ka Shing to your discussion in Barrows in a matter of 10 minutes. Sometimes we could use double Berkeley time.
Strada: A coffee shop located across from Kroeber fountain on the southside of campus that’s popular among, well, literally everyone. Great for Tinder dates, coffee chats, club interviews, getting your laptop stolen and coffee that tastes like battery acid. What? We’re just being honest. Don’t worry, Strada, we love you despite your (many) flaws.
Flyering: “Flyering,” isn’t a word, per se, but here at UC Berkeley, it’s practically a lifestyle. It’s the act of students promoting their clubs or event by insisting that you take a small, colored flyer for unknown reasons. It’s the bane of our existence as UC Berkeley students, but it’s also the thing we try to avoid literally every single day. If you accept a flyer from one of these Sproulers (a person standing on Sproul shoving said flyers down your throat), you’ve lost. Walk on the perimeters of Sproul and put your headphones in to avoid such a nuisance.
KiwiBot: Have you seen those little cube-shaped robots with heart eyes rolling around campus? Well, if you have, congratulations, because you’ve spotted a KiwiBot (not like it’s hard or anything, they’re literally everywhere).
GSI: Also known as a Graduate Student Instructor, your GSI is like a teacher’s assistant for professors with big lectures. Sometimes known as a “reader,” they lead your discussion sections and typically grade your exams and assignments. They’ll either be your best friend or your worst enemy, or you’ll realize you never knew their name when you’re supposed to be writing it on your green book when you’re taking your final at the end of the semester. Either way, they’re interesting nonetheless and there to help you succeed (for the most part).
Daily Cal: Short for The Daily Californian (what you’re reading right now). We’re the campus’ and city’s official, (almost) daily newspaper! Thanks for stopping by (you can find us in bins on campus too).
Cal Day: UC Berkeley students’ excuse to throw one big dayger by “celebrating Cal.” Pass by Greek Row and you’ll see cheerleading skirts, glitter, striped overalls and quite a few tipsy student patrons. Also the day admitted students (like you!) and their parents visit campus to learn about all of the clubs, academics and other programs UC Berkeley has to offer. But really just one big dayger.
No. 1 public university: Another name for UC Berkeley we like to use to feel better about drowning in mountains of work every day.
Campanile: Our north star, alarm clock of a tower that is also our pride and joy and one of the many things that clearly makes us better than Stanfurd.
Boba: Frequently known as “bubble tea” by out-of-town folk, boba is basically the UC Berkeley student’s equivalent to water. It makes up 70 percent of our bodies and is essential to life here in Berkeley. You can find boba at nearly every other storefront on Telegraph and Bancroft. You don’t have to look very hard to find it.
Are you interested in consulting?: This is a question you’ll be asked every time you walk through Sproul by a Patagonia-wearing consulting club member trying to get you to join their (probably terrifying) business organization and one that you should always say “no” to. You can thank us later.
Hopefully this serves as a good starting guide to get you in with what all of the cool (re: lame) UC Berkeley kids are saying these days. We’re quirky, but we can’t wait to see you here in the fall!