Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Body recovered in Lake Michigan, EPD examining identity of body
Evanston’s ‘Seeds of Change’ theme inspires unity at Fourth of July parade
Lawsuit against Pritzker School of Law alleges its hiring process discriminates against white men
Evanston Fire concludes recovery search and rescue efforts for missing swimmer after ‘exhausting’ all resources
Independent review of athletics department released, puts forth key recommendations
City Council approves $800,000 settlement over Fountain Square leaks, discusses leaf blower ordinance amendments
Northwestern hosts groundbreaking ceremony at Ryan Field construction site
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Independent review of athletics department released, puts forth key recommendations

Northwestern hosts groundbreaking ceremony at Ryan Field construction site

June 25, 2024

Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

June 13, 2024


The secret (and short) lives of cicadas on campus

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Northwebster: Navigating NU slang and lingo

Illustration by Olivia Abeyta
Here’s everything you’ll need to know to tackle Northwestern slang and acronyms when you get to campus.

Coming to college is like entering a new world, complete with all of its own slang and phrases. Here’s a quick briefer on some of the sayings and acronyms that you’ll come in contact with when you get to Evanston, from NUDM to Norbucks. 



ASG: Stands for Associated Student Government, the government of Northwestern’s undergraduate student body. ASG has 10 committees, which any student is welcome to join, an executive branch and a senate composed of approximately 20 student groups and 17 school senators.

CAPS: This stands for Counseling and Psychological Services, NU’s mental health service for students. CAPS offers resources as well as virtual appointments and assessments that can be booked on their website or taken on a walk-in basis. Their Evanston campus location is in Searle Hall. 

CARE: An acronym for the Center for Awareness, Response, and Education. On campus, CARE provides education about safe, healthy sexuality and has many resources for survivors of sexual assault. 

CTEC: This stands for Course and Teacher Evaluation Council and refers to evaluations that students fill out at the end of each quarter. The forms ask questions about the course material, the teacher and the rigor. They are all available for all students to look at when selecting courses for the next quarter. 

FGLI: Pronounced “figly,” this acronym stands for First-Generation and/or Low-Income. It typically refers to students who are the first in their family to come to college and/or identify as low-income. Resources are available to support FGLI students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and undocumented students at Student Enrichment Services. 

FSL: The abbreviation for the Fraternity and Sorority Life office at NU. This office encompasses the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council at NU. 

SESP: An acronym for the School of Education and Social Policy.

SPAC: What students call the on-campus gym, officially named the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. Access to SPAC and all of its equipment is free for all students, including a weekly rotation of workout classes. 



DEERING: Short for Deering Library, one of the most well-known spots on campus for looking like Hogwarts. It houses the Art Library and has underground tunnels to Main Library. 

LINCOLN: The sought-after dorm located at 560 Lincoln St. Although now officially renamed “Schapiro Hall,” students still refer to it as Lincoln. 

NORBUCKS: Slang for the Starbucks in Norris University Center. It was recently renovated and moved from the first floor to the basement, and accepts dining dollars. 

NORRIS: Norris University Center is where students go to eat, study and hang out. It’s home to restaurants, study spaces, conference rooms and offices. It also houses a game room, performance venues and ARTica studios, where students can learn various crafts. 

MAIN: The name students usually call University Library, NU’s largest and most popular library. It has a wide variety of places to study, ranging from silent to loud, complete with a coffee shop for late-night studying. It’s located between North and South Campus, and is right next to Norris University Center. 

MUDD: Short for Mudd Science and Engineering Library. It’s on North Campus, near Tech and SPAC. It has two floors of study rooms, and two rooms open 24 hours a day.  

PLEX: Short for Foster-Walker Complex, the singles dorm on South Campus. This term can refer to the dorm itself or to the two dining halls it contains — one being the allergen-friendly dining hall that only serves stir-fry. 

SHERIDAN: Refers to the main road that stretches across NU’s campus. It can get pretty crowded with walkers, cyclists, skateboarders and people on mopeds. 

SHERBUCKS: Slang for the Starbucks in Downtown Evanston, a few steps off-campus on Sherman Avenue. For many students living on South Campus, this location is closer than the one in Norris University Center.

THE GARAGE: NU’s hub for entrepreneurship on campus. Housed in the same building as SPAC, the Garage offers a plethora of programs for students looking to start their own companies and has an impressive list of alumni entrepreneurs.

THE LAKEFILL: The part of campus that juts out into Lake Michigan. It’s essentially a small island, and offers great views of downtown Chicago that consistently draw out large crowds of students when the weather warms up. 

TECH: An easy one — short for the Technological Institute, the large building that houses most of NU’s STEM classes. It’s located by Sargent Hall on North Campus, and has its own website to navigate its plethora of classrooms — just google ‘Tech Room Finder.’



DILLO: Short for Armadillo Day, run by Mayfest Productions. This annual student-run music festival brings several artists to the Lakefill each Spring Quarter in one of the biggest days of the year.

MARCH THROUGH THE ARCH: What incoming students do during Wildcat Welcome to signify their time beginning at NU. 

MARRIAGE PACT: Students fill out a yearly questionnaire regarding their preferences for life and love. An algorithm matches students with the other person on campus they’re most compatible with, with the end goal being that you’ll have someone to marry if all else fails.

NUDM: Short for Northwestern University Dance Marathon, an annual event on campus. Every March, students gather to dance for 30 hours straight to raise money for charities. This year, it’s the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.   

READING WEEK: The end of every quarter, the week before finals. Weinberg classes don’t meet during this week, which also happens to be Week 10. 

THE GNATS: In a yearly occurence during Spring Quarter, students must fend off hordes of small insects while walking around campus. Some years are worse than others – fingers crossed for Spring 2024!

THE ROCK: A big rock near University Hall that students paint in the night after guarding for 24 hours. There’s a livestream of The Rock at all times.



BIG TEN: The conference that NU plays in, part of NCAA Division 1 athletics. The conference currently has 14 teams, but two more will join in 2024. 

CAESAR: The online platform students use to register for classes, view and request academic transcripts, view CTECs, pay tuition and more. 

CANVAS: The online platform most professors use for their class materials.

DINING DOLLARS: Money loaded onto your wildcard that allows you to purchase items from on campus restaurants and convenience stores. Freshmen receive $125 a quarter as part of their dining plan.

DISTRO: Slang for distribution requirements (now renamed to foundational disciplines), a feature of NU degrees that requires students to take a certain number of classes outside of their main area of study. Around class registration time, you’ll hear lots of talk about how to land spots in the distros that are the easiest and most popular.

EDUROAM: The name of NU’s main wifi network. Students can connect to eduroam using their NetID from anywhere on campus, including outdoor spaces.

MAX: University President Michael Schill’s dog. He’s often around at important campus events or taking a walk around campus. 

MEAL EXCHANGES: The freshman meal plan comes with five of these per week. Meal exchanges allow students to get specified items at select restaurants on campus without spending dining dollars. 

NETID and STUDENT ID: A combination of three letters and four numbers or a seven-digit number, respectively. Your NetID is used for most things on campus, including accessing campus computers and logging into NU platforms. Your student ID is typically used for administrative purposes. 

THE “L”: The term people use to refer to the elevated Chicago Transit Authority trains connecting Chicago and adjacent suburbs. 

PAPER.NU: Formerly, students use the website to plan out their class schedule each quarter. 

WILDCARD: Refers to your NU ID card. It’s used to get you into buildings, your room and dining halls, and as a “credit card” for meal exchanges and dining dollars.

WILLIE: Willie the Wildcat is our mascot. You’ll probably catch a glimpse of him at a sports game. 


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @alycebrownn 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @nicolejmarkus

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