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Vassar Dictionary: your guide to acronyms, nicknames and life on campus—word by word

Molly Turpin, Senior Editor

Published: Monday, June 29, 2009

Updated: Sunday, July 11, 2010 11:07

Your first months at Vassar will without a doubt be some of the most exciting and exhilarating of your life—they may also, however, be the most confusing. Wonder what UpCDC is? Want to know how to find a professor's e-mail address? Or how about where Shipping and Receiving is? Or, better yet, why all the seniors are throwing food at you? Read The Miscellany News Vassar Dictionary and learn the lay of the land.


AAVC: Alumnae & Alumni of Vassar College

When you first drive through the gates of Taylor Hall as a freshman, you become a member of the Vassar Campus Community. Four years later, when you receive your diploma at Commencement, you become a member of the AAVC—the Alumnae & Alumni of Vassar College, a non-profit organization leading more than 36,000 Vassar alumnae/i in connecting with each other and with the College. AAVC also has its own Alumnae House—a Tudor-style inn across the street from campus—where your parents can stay the night and where you can grab a Vassar Devil, the College's very own dessert.

ACDC: All Campus Dining Center, located on the first floor of the Student's Building

You know you go to Vassar when you hear the acronym "ACDC" and think of food and not the Australian Rock band or "You Shook Me All Night Long." The All Campus Dining Center—otherwise known as ACDC—is Vassar's central dining hall where students can use their meal points.

The Acrop: The Acropolis Diner

Every once and a while—and sometimes more often than that—a Vassar student will find him or herself absolutely starving at 3 a.m.. Fortunately, there's the Acrop, an affordable diner right down the street open 24 hours a day.

See The Miscellany News Guide to Poughkeepsie review of the Acropolis Diner for more information and a map.

ALANA Center: African American/Black, Latino, Asian/Asian American, Native American Center

In 1969, the Kendrick House was established as the Afro-American Cultural Center. Over the last forty years, the Center has expanded greatly and grown rich in history, moving locations to its own new building and changing its name to ALANA, an acronym meant to include various communities of color.

The Center is located across from the College Center main entrance, close to the Computer Center and the Powerhouse Theatre. See campus map.
Phone: (845) 437-5954.

AskBanner: Online Campus Directory

As a Vassar Student, you will learn to live and breathe Ask Banner. Go to the Ask Banner website (normally accessible from the Vassar homepage) to find your schedule, pre-register for classes, log student employment hours, view your transcript, see financial aid information and find contact information for Vassar students, faculty, staff and administrators. Ever need to find the e-mail address of your professor? The location of an office? The room number of a friend? Go to Ask Banner!

The Atrium: The Atrium Juice Bar, located in the Athletics and Fitness Center

If you've just finished working out, there's nothing better than stopping at the Atrium on your way out of the gym. Stay healthy with a smoothie, fresh fruit-juice, a nutrition bar, sports drink or use your meal points to get a combination.


Babycakes: Babycakes Bakery Café

No Vassar student can resist Babycakes. Located on only one or two minutes away on Collegeview Avenue, Babycakes serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and—best of all—dessert. The recently expanded European-style eatery is a perfect retreat for students with its relaxed atmosphere, hanging paper lamps, soft music, good coffee and delicious food. For breakfast, try an omelet or the Belgian waffles; for lunch and dinner, a cheeseburger with fries; and for dessert, the Chocolate Bomb.

See The Miscellany News Guide to Poughkeepsie review of Babycakes for more information and a map.

Baldwin: Baldwin Health Center

Come to Baldwin if you're feeling ill. Talk to the nurses and doctors, and they'll give you what you need—whether it's medicine or just a quiet place to sleep.

The Bean: Matthew's Bean.

Not to be confused with Matthew's Mug, the Bean is the student-run coffee house located in the basement of the Library. Donated by the Class of 2002, the Bean is the perfect place to take a study break.

The Board: The Vassar College Board of Trustees

Chaired by William Plapinger '74, the Board of Trustees is charged with responsibility of the College as a whole—with deciding how to preserve the long-term health and well-being of the institution. The 36 members of the Board are critical in the major decision-making processes of the College.


CRC: Campus Response Center

24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is a security officer stationed at the Campus Response Center, located in the lobby of Main Building. Come here to look for any lost items, to report a lockout or just to say "hello" to your favorite Security Officer.

Cappy: Catharine Bond Hill, President of the College

President Hill—affectionately known and commonly referred to as Cappy—came to campus in 2006 as the 10th President of Vassar College. Since her inauguration, she has worked with students, faculty and administration on many programs and initiatives—the most notable among them the return to a need-blind admissions policy. Hill lives right on campus across from Main Building in the President's House.

CCL: Committee on College Life

The Dean of the College chairs the Committee on College Life, which works throughout the year to review and alter non-academic College regulations. When an issue comes to the committee, members take a vote, with the Dean of the College voting only in the case of a tie.

CCP: Committee on Curricular Policies

As the primary body for the review and development of academics on campus, the Committee on Curricular Policies is one of the most important committees at Vassar. CCP—a joint student/faculty committee—is comprised of two professors and one student from each academic division, as well as the VSA Vice President for Academics.

CDO: Career Development Office

Located in the South Wing of Main Building, the Career Development Office is your stop for finding internships, summer jobs and advice about where to look for what, and how. If you're hoping to find a Work Study job on campus, walk right down the hall to the Student Employment Office.The CDO also provides online resources on their website.

CIS: Computing and Information Services

CIS is responsible for overseeing all of the use of technology at the College. This includes V Card, V Print, Moodle, and more. Your main interactions with CIS may be at the CIS HelpDesk in the library, where student employees can help you with basic computer problems as well as any issues with V Print. You can also e-mail with a description of your problem, or visit the CIS website. For general help with your V Card you can visit the Card Office, which is located in the Computer Center.

Correlate Sequence: a Minor

Correlate is Vassar's fancy term for a minor sequence. The word was chosen based on the belief that a minor course of study should "round out" a student's major course of study. Many departments offer correlate sequences with their own requirements separate from those of the major. See possible correlate sequences in the course catalogue.


Declining Balance Points: Points available for use at the Bookstore and all Dining Services locations with the exception of ACDC

One Declining Balance Point is equal to one dollar. These points—which are included in the meal plan but can be replenished throughout the year—are always in high demand, since you can use them at any location other than ACDC and the Bookstore. So, whether you're in the mood for a wrap from the Retreat or just a cup of coffee at the Kiosk, reach for your V Card to pay with your Declining Balance Points.


Express Lunch: Bagged lunches worth one meal point

Your English class in Sanders Classroom ends at 11:45 a.m., so you barely have enough time to get to your 12 p.m. economics class in Kenyon Hall—let alone grab lunch. Unless, that is, you know about Express Lunch. While you're running across campus, stop for a couple minutes in the College Center at the Vassar Express counter located on the second floor. One meal point will get you a drink, chips, cookies and your choice of a sandwich with roast beef, turkey and cheese, tuna fish or hummus and pita.


The Farm: Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve

The 527.5-acre farm, located on the southern side of Vassar campus, originally provided milk, pork and vegetables to the College Dining Hall until 1957. Today, the Farm provides wooded trails, meadows, sports fields and open-space for several student organizations and events. Students interested in farming can also rent a small plot of land for growing their own produce.

FLLAC: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

For art history majors, there's nothing better than writing an essay about a painting hanging right in front of you. An invaluable resource for students and the wider New York community, the FLLAC houses over 17,000 works from renowned artists such as Frederick Church, Georgia O'Keeffe, Thomas Cole and Francis Bacon. The museum was originally founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery, making Vassar the very first college or university in the country to include an art museum as part of its original campus plan.

Founder's Day: Vassar holiday honoring Founder Matthew Vassar

Each spring, College takes a break from the stress of classes and exam preparation to gather on Ballentine field and celebrate the life of Matthew Vassar, who founded the College in 1861. With carnival rides, games, special Founder's Day events and food from local vendors, Founder's Day is everything you could want and more.

FWS: Freshman Writing Seminar

Every freshman is required to take a Freshman Writing Seminar, a small, discussion-based class meant to hone writing skills and introduce students to Vassar's holistic teaching style. Though you would think that all Freshman Writing Seminars would be English classes, there are FWS offered in almost every department, including astronomy, mathematics and economics. For the full list of FWS, check here on Ask Banner.

For more information, see The Miscellany News in-depth article assessing the FWS and the other two academic requirements at Vassar.


Grand Pianos: Steinway Pianos located in every house

One of the first things applicants learn about Vassar is that there is a Steinway Grand Piano located in every house common room or parlor. Though the tradition may at first sound ostentatious, it takes only a few days at Vassar to realize that the pianos are anything but mere display. The pianos constantly come in handy for music majors who want to practice and for impromptu performances and sing-a-longs.


House Team: Group of students and faculty who lead and govern each house

Vassar calls its residences "houses" rather than "dorms" because they're meant to be homes, places with a strong sense of community. This close-knit feel of each house would not be possible without a House Team, a group of students and faculty members who lead and govern a house. Each team is comprised of the following:

  • one or two house fellows: faculty members and their families who live in the house and play a major role in the intellectual and cultural life of the house
  • several student fellows: sophomores who are chosen and trained by the dean of students and then assigned to small groups of first year students to make the transition to life at Vassar as smooth as possible
  • house intern: a junior or senior who coordinates the activities of the student fellows
  • house advisor: a member of the Residential Life staff who serves as a liaison with the college administration and coordinates programming
  • student officers (president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and freshman, sophomore, and junior representatives) who are elected by the house and also represent the house on the VSA Council


Java City: Java City Café, located on the third floor of the Students Building, above UpCDC 

Open until 2 a.m. on weeknights, Java City is the perfect place to grab food and a drink after hours. You can buy microwavable popcorn, Easy Mac, chips and cookies, or order coffee, sandwiches, salads and smoothies from the menu.

Joint Committee: A committee that includes representation from the student body, faculty and the administration

Central to Vassar's "shared governance," joint committees provide crucial opportunities for student-faculty-administration collaboration. Joint committees include the Committee on Admission and Financial Aid, the Campus Investor Responsibility Committee, the Committee on Sustainability, the Committee on College Life, the Computing and Educational Technologies Committee, the Drug and Alcohol Education Committee, the Food Committee, the Library Committee, the Campus Master Planning Committee, the Committee on Curricular Policies, the Committee on Inclusion and Excellence and the Campus-Community Advisory Committee. Interested freshman can run for a position on one of these committees during the Class of 2013 elections, set to take place in September.


Matthew Vassar: Founder of the College Matthew Vassar (April 29, 1792 – June 23, 1868)

You would never guess that the young Matthew Vassar would one day grow up to become the legendary founder of the first women's college—as a child, Vassar was short, a tad overweight, always ill with some disease and lacking a formal education. If anything, however, Vassar was ambitious; as an adult, he became rich from his family's brewery, traveled overseas to England and returned with hopes of doing great things in the United States. Upon the encouragement of his niece Lydia Booth, he founded the Vassar College in 1861, paving the way for women's education across the country and for years to come. "If we only follow on in the old beaten paths," said Vassar in his final address to the trustees (he died mid-way through), "we will make no progress. We do no more than others have done before us. We are only copyists and not progressionists. My motto is progress."

MICA: Moderate, Independent, Conservative Alliance

MICA is a student organization aiming to further moderate, independent, conservative and libertarian thought and dialogue at Vassar. Always active on campus, MICA was at the center of the Coca Cola controversy last year, leading the campaign to "Keep Coke" products on campus. See our Year in Review Article for more information on the Kick Coke/Keep Coke Campaigns.

Midnight Breakfast: Breakfast served on the midnight before exams

Every year before the start of winter and spring exams, the College hosts a midnight breakfast in ACDC, where students gather after other pre-exam activities to enjoy well-deserved eggs, bacon, hash browns, waffles and pancakes served by the College's Senior Officers and the Executive Board of the VSA Council.

Miscellany/Misc: The Miscellany News

Commonly referred to as The Miscellany, or The Misc, The Miscellany News has been Vassar College's newspaper of record since 1866, just five years after the College's founding. Distributed each week on Thursday morning and published online daily, the Miscellany reports all major campus issues—administrative decisions, student government, academic policies, student activities—as well as on the weekly happenings of the College. The paper meets weekly for a paper critique on Sunday at 9 p.m. in the Rose Parlor and welcomes all students to be involved in any capacity.

The Mug: Matthew's Mug

Located below the Retreat, the Mug is great place to blow off some steam and dance away your troubles. With student DJs, live performances organization-hosted dance parties and theme nights, the Mug—though some nights are more busy than others—is a staple of Vassar nightlife.

Multidisciplinary Program: A program concentrating on a single problem or series of problems that cannot be approached by one discipline alone

Vassar currently has 12 fully developed multidisciplinary programs—Africana Studies; American Culture; Asian Studies; Cognitive Science; Environmental Studies; International Studies; Jewish Studies; Latin American and Latino/a Studies; Media Studies; Science, Technology, and Society, Urban Studies; and Women's Studies. These programs are perfect for students looking to take courses in numerous departments.


Need-blind: Need-blind Admissions policy

In the coming year, you will no doubt hear a lot about Vassar's need-blind admissions policy. Instituted in 2007, the policy ensures that socio-economic status and financial need will not be considered when reviewing an applicant.

NRO: Non-Recorded Option

Want to try a difficult course in a subject you're not used to, but too scared the grade might not live up to your expectations? NRO it. Fill out an NRO form for that class and list your desired minimum grade. If you pass the course with a grade higher than what you chose, that grade is recorded on your transcript; if the grade is lower, it will not be recorded. Of course, you can't do this for every course you take—the limit is four, so choose wisely.


Pink Bikes: Bikes from the Shared Bike Program

When you first come to campus, you'll notice that a lot of people seem to have the same pink cruiser bike. These bikes are in fact not individually owned, but part of the Shared Bike Program, give to the College by the recently-graduated Class of 2009. In the beginning of the year, pay a $10 deposit and get a key that will work on any of the pink bikes. When you return your key at the end of the year, you get your $10 back.

Primal Scream School-wide tradition to mark the start of exams

At midnight before the start of exam period, you'll hear hundreds of people screaming in unison on the Quad to de-stress and mark the start of exam week. Though screaming is the chief activity of the tradition, students are also known to streak across the Quad and through the library.


QA: Quantitative Analysis Requirement

If you're reading your schedule or a list of courses and see the two letters "QA" next to the title of a class, you're looking at a course that fulfills Vassar's Quantitative Analysis Requirement, one of three main requirements in Vassar's curriculum. For the full list of QA classes, check here on Ask Banner.

For more information, see The Miscellany News in-depth assessment of the QA requirement and the other two academic requirements at Vassar.

QCVC: Queer Coalition of Vassar College

Working closely with the Blegen House and other LGBTQI groups on campus, QCVC is a student organization created to help various projects by and for Vassar's transgender, queer, lesbian, bisexual, gay and allied students.


The Retreat: Vassar's grab-and-go style grill

A popular spot for grabbing a quick lunch between classes as well as for meeting friends and study groups, the Retreat is a grill that serves sandwiches, pizza and other hot dishes. The Retreat also has a salad bar, on-the-go items, such as yogurt and a selection of coffee and teas. Use your declining balance points here.

The ROC: The Residential Operations Center

Locked out? Problem with your room? Try the ROC. Located behind Josselyn House, the ROC is there to help students with the problems that occasionally arise in residential life. You can reach the ROC by phone (845-437-7169) for a quick fix—a feature perfect for those times when you find yourself locked out just after a shower—or enter a service request online to fix problems in rooms, hallways and bathrooms.

Rocky: Rockefeller Hall

Short for Rockefeller Hall, Rocky was built in 1897 in honor of the John D. Rockefeller family and houses classes from the English, political science and philosophy departments.

Rose and Gray: Vassar's traditional colors

As one student wrote in 1870, these colors of the dawn represent, "The rose of sunlight breaking through the gray of women's intellectual life." However, since the dawn of coeducation at Vassar, the rose—initially drawn as pink—has for the most part been reinterpreted as a somewhat more masculine maroon. Still, anyone at Vassar will tell you that College's colors are rose and gray.

RSL: The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life

RSL hosts a number of programs including religious services, walking meditation, and work-study opportunities. RSL is not just a resource for religious programming, it's also an outlet for social justice and volunteerism and welcomes all students whether they ascribe themselves to a particular religion or not.


Sanders: Sanders Physics and Sanders Classrooms buildings

When you're reading your schedule for the first time, be careful—there are two buildings named Sanders. To make things even better, they're right next to each other. Originally established as Sanders Hall of Chemistry in 1909, Sanders Classroom became the home of the English department in 1989. Sanders Hall of Physics was established in 1926 and still houses the College's physics department today. See our Reading Your Schedule Guide to help you tell the two apart.

Senior Officers: The top administrators of the College, each leading an administrative division

The Senior Officers include President Hill, Dean of the College Christopher Roellke, Dean of the Faculty Jonathan Chenette, Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger and the Vice President for Finance and Administration Elizabeth Eismeier. The Senior Officers chair the most important committees, report to the Board of Trustees, work closely with the VSA Executive Board and make critical decisions surrounding the College's structure, budget and operation.

Serenading: A beginning of the year tradition that incorporates the use of both choruses and condiments

Serenading is a tradition that has changed quite a bit over the years. Originally a singing contest between houses, Serenading has evolved—or perhaps devolved—to include a massive food fight between the freshmen of each house and the seniors. Keeping with the tradition, however, the event still culminates in a song contest on Ballantine Field in which each House's new students and house team sing an original song to the seniors.

Shakespeare Garden: Flower garden behind Olmsted

This beautiful spot tucked into the slope behind Olmsted and Sanders Physics is the perfect place for relaxing in splendid weather. Fitting its name measure for measure, the garden includes every kind of plant ever mentioned in a work of Shakespeare and then some.

Shipping and Receiving: Where larger mail is delivered

Occasionally you may receive an e-mail notice that you have a package from "Receiving" and not the post office. This means it's time for a trek, and hopefully whatever package you're about to pick up is worth a bit of a hike. Shipping and Receiving is accessible by a path leading past Skinner Hall of Music or a short trail just behind Sanders Physics.

SoCos: South Commons

The SoCos are a group of 10 apartments for upperclassmen, located just past Shipping and Receiving. Five students live in each SoCo.

Student Fellows: Sophomore student leaders on the House Team—similar to, but not the same as, an RA

Student Fellows are there to help freshmen. Each Student Fellow is a sophomore assigned a group of freshmen living in their hallway. They are available any time to answer questions or just to listen. Unlike RAs at other colleges, Student Fellows have no disciplinary responsibility, a fact that often leads to a great amount of trust between freshmen and their student fellows.


Tea: Tea in the Rose Parlor, every weekday at 3 p.m.

After a few classes, a cup of tea can really hit the spot, especially when cold weather arrives. Despite stories of formal teas, Tea in the Rose Parlor actually became a tradition in the 1970s, though it evolved from Faculty Tea, which began in 1925. Still, Tea in the Rose Parlor has become a hallmark of life at Vassar College and a part of the College's identity.

TAs: Terrace Apartments

A housing option for upperclassmen, mostly seniors, the TAs are located across from Walker Field House. Four or five students live in each TA.

THs: Town Houses

Another housing option for upperclassmen, the THs are situated across the street from the main campus near Prentiss Athletic Fields. 2008-2009 saw the completion of several new THs. About five students live in each TH, although some of the newer houses provide an opportunity for cooperative living with 10 students per TH.


UpCDC: Second floor of the Student's Building (above ACDC)

With plenty of tables and comfy chairs and couches, UpCDC is a great place to bring coffee and meet friends or a study group. UpCDC also plays host to various school-wide events like lectures, plays, concerts and other occasions.


VANS: Vassar Adventures for New Students

Freshmen and transfer students can choose from a variety of activities organized by Vassar student organizations. VANS events takes place over the course of one afternoon during orientation week and serves to introduce first-year students to an organization. This year, VANS will take place on Saturday, August 29.

Vassar Devil: Vassar's signature dessert

For Vassar students, this scrumptious treat is a rite of passage. Made of a square of devil's food cake, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and marshmallow sauce, the Vassar Devil can be found at the Alumni House Pub.

Vassarion: Vassar's yearbook

The Vassarion is the College's student-run yearbook. Dating back to 1887, the Vassarion documents student life at the College, student organizations, and memories of the campus.

ViCE: Vassar College Entertainment

Looking for something to do on a weekend night? ViCE may have the answer. ViCE is a student-run organization responsible for bringing entertainment such as concerts, movies and other special events to campus. In the last two years, ViCE brought act such as M.I.A., Beirut and Eric Hutchinson to campus. NoViCE is an offshoot organization of ViCE—it describes itself as ViCE's "spunky renegade little sister"—that brings lesser known artists to campus for smaller shows.

V Card: Your student id and so much more

Don't lose this. Your VCard is your Vassar identification, but it also holds your declining balance points and meal points. It can help you with everything from checking out a library book to getting dinner to doing laundry. Take your VCard with you everywhere, because it works like a key to get you into the residential houses, the library after it closes to the public and a few other buildings that are not open at all hours. To replace or get help with your VCard, visit the Card Office, which is located in the Computer Center.

V Mail: Vassar e-mail

As a member of the Vassar community, you are given a V Mail account. The whole campus communicates using their V Mail, so it is important to check it frequently, if not at every chance you get.

V Print: The most convenient way to print on campus

Printers are located in every house, in several spots in the library, and in a few other places on campus. Each student is given a V Print quota every semester for the number of prints that he can make. Beyond the quota, prints come out of your declining balance points. You can follow CIS's instructions here to install V Print on your computer and then swipe your V Card at any V Print printer and you are ready to go.

V Space: Vassar's File Sharing system

Vspace allows students to share files over the Internet with others. When you store a file in your Vspace account, you can choose whether others can edit, delete, manage or merely view that file. The system is great for sharing photos or other files too large to send over e-mail.

VSA: Vassar Student Association

If you are a student at Vassar, then you are a member of the VSA. The VSA is the umbrella for all student organizations, and the VSA Council—comprised of elected officials from each house and class—is the student government of the College. The Council's Executive Board includes the President, the Vice President for Student Life, the Vice President for Operations, the Vice President for Academics, the Vice President for Activities and the Vice President for Finance. These six students work closely with the President, administrators, faculty and staff throughout the year.

Freshman interested in joining the student government will have their chance in September when they will be eligible to run for Class of 2013 elections as a class or joint committee representative. For more information about the VSA and student government, see our interviews with the six members of the 2009-10 VSA Executive Board.


WVKR: Vassar College Radio

What began as a twice-a-week, 15-minute broadcast on WGNY in 1938 grew into Vassar's very own radio station. WVKR now broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and its programming now includes shows put together by students and programs created by members of the greater Vassar community.


1861: Vassar College is founded by Matthew Vassar

On February 28, 1861, Matthew Vassar met with the 28 members of the charter Board of Trustees to outline his vision for the "first fully endowed institution for the education of women," and to present a sum of $408,000 for the opening of the College. That year, shortly after the start of the Civil War, construction began on what was to become 124 Raymond Avenue. Four years later, in 1865, the College welcomed its first class of 365 students on September 26.

1969: Coeducation

Three years before Vassar opened its doors to male students in 1969, the President of Yale University Kingman Brewster offered a merger between the New Haven school and Vassar. The deal, of course, was that Vassar would be the one to change locations. While President of Vassar Alan Simpson, students, faculty and administrators expressed reservations about moving to New Haven, all did agree that a move toward coeducation was imperative, and in 1969, the College admitted the Class of 1974—comprised of women and men.

This year, Vassar celebrates the 40th anniversary of coeducation. Click here to read the spring Miscellany News article on how men have affected Vassar's heritage, culture and extracurricular life.


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