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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


An incomplete glossary of words to know/love/abuse at UA

Have you ever made a total fool of yourself by asking where a building is, only to be told you’re standing in it? Have you ever received looks of pity and incredulity when you asked someone what “”the Fourth Street”” is? Remember when you used to show up to class, sit in the front row with your sharpened pencils, and be surprised when your fellow classmates ambled in wearing last niht’s makeup and some off-size basketball shorts? Those were the days, friends.

As the only people on campus right now in any significant numbers are dedicated grad students, the masochists who take summer school and a whole stampede of the class of 2014 and their investors (parents), now is a great time for you bush-baby-eyed wildkittens to learn what is what in this dusty town of aging hippies and underage hipsters.

Listen up, freshmonsters, transfer students, and upperclassmen who spent the first two years of your undergraduate “”careers”” being hung-over. Out of the goodness and benevolence of my heart, which does, in fact, bleed red and blue, your fearless columnist has compiled your go-to list of the slang terms, hip words and nearly-nonsensical nomenclature that make the UA different from every other Division I school in the country. I can’t keep you from puking out the window of your dorm on the first Tuesday of classes, but I can keep you from sounding ridiculous when you pronounce that dorm name as hyoo-wuaa-choo-kuh. Huachuca is pronounced wa-choo-kah. Remember that.

Even though the well-meaning graphic designers who make all the maps around here insist on labeling it the Student Union Memorial Center, it’s called the Union. Don’t try to pronounce it as an acronym or initialism; it’s just the Union. A surefire way to spot someone who doesn’t belong is to hear the poor soul call it something else. The bookstore in The Union is The Bookstore. There are a few other bookstores on campus, but don’t be caught on the corner of Park and Sixth trying to go to Starbucks.

Just a hop, skip, and decently long walk down University Boulevard is Fourth Avenue, a nightlife Mecca for the overage and a bastion of kitschy boutiques, local restaurants and politically-minded coffee shops. It’s the Village to campus’ Manhattan (relatively). Don’t get caught calling it The Fourth, or Fourth Street, or Fourth Boulevard. It’s called Fourth, or alternately, Fourth Ave. or Fourth Avenue. In a quick rundown of more unique jargon:

“”T-loc”” (pronounced tee-loak) is a name for a Tucson native; “”Belig”” (pronounced bell-ij) is an adjective to describe a person who is belligerently drunk; “”Gen Ed”” is a noun that refers to a general education class; and “”Dirty T”” is an affectionate name for Tucson.

You will learn these and all the other clever terms that make us Arizona, not Arizona State, soon enough. After all, you were one of the 83 percent of applicants who earned admission to this fine institution. But more than trying to be a “”Kool Kid”” by using the right term for the right building, the language of the UA is a part of the institutional culture. It’s part of, for better and worse, the collective experience of the school. From sleeping through that first class, to getting lost trying to find the Shantz building, to having your favorite white shorts stained with red and blue face paint from your first football game in Zona Zoo, these words are part of the experience you share with 38,000 current students and millions of alumni.

From puking in front of the Islamic Heritage Center in your Catholic schoolgirl uniform on your first college-aged Halloween to finally discovering the library a week before finals, it’s part groupthink and part authentic collective experience. So grab a Keystone, newbie, and we’ll show you where The Fourth Boulevard is.

­— Anna Swenson is a junior majoring in English. She also writes for The Desert Lamp. She can be reached at

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