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Lingo and Lore 101: Your guide to Rutgers culture

From key figures to places to people, Rutgers possesses so much lore within its walls, and as a student, it's essential to your experience to understand it. – Photo by Rachel Chang

Starting college is a scary thing.

As a scared, clammy-handed first-year, I had no clue what I wanted to do and even less of a clue of how to remedy that. But even so, with what felt like the weight of my entire future looming over me, chief amid my anxieties was figuring out how to navigate this new, objectively weird campus culture: Why are the sandwiches fat? Who is Greg Schiano, and what is he chopping?

Fear not! Use this article as your guide to all of that. Not as a guide to the logistically important stuff, but to the things that will make you feel like you belong here — because you do! This can be a catalyst for your journey. Hopefully, with the lingo figured out, you’ll have room to breathe and, soon enough, make our funny little campus into a second home.

Key figures

First thing’s first: Greg Schiano is the head coach of the Rutgers football team. You’ll hear his name if once in a blue moon the Scarlet Knights win something, but more often than not, you’ll hear his name when we lose. Or when he spends thousands of taxpayer dollars at TopGolf.

Steve Pikiell is the head coach of the men’s basketball team. They win more often than the football team.

Jonathan Hollaway is our University President. He replaced former University President Robert Barchi in 2020. He is also a Leo. It is very important that you know this. Click here for more.

Key places

Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus is arguably the most notorious of all Rutgers dining halls. Ask any upperclassman about Brower, and they will undeniably recite their little speech about how bad Brower is, but between you and me, it’s pretty middle-of-the-road dining hall food. Pizza is a consistently safe option, but I’ve heard some scary stories about the salad bar and cereal.

Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus. Sigh. I thought the headline announcing the change in naming rights from Rutgers Athletic Center to whatever this is was a meme at first glance. But alas. I suppose it does align with our identity as the State University of New Jersey pretty well.

Hansel ‘n Griddle is located centrally on Easton Avenue and is not only a convenient breakfast spot but also a great late-night destination! We love Hansel for its versatility, particularly in its operating hours and potato preparations. Whether you go with a wedge or a tot, there is no wrong choice.

Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus is the destination of choice for a sizable portion of Rutgers students on nice days for good reason: It’s located in the heart of College Avenue with large grassy, tree-covered areas to sprawl out with your besties, maybe to study but most likely to people watch and occasionally spot a cute dog and debate asking to pet them. Who knew the armpit of the U.S. could be so pretty?

Key terms

Chop. There’s a long etymology behind this Rutgers classic, but for our purposes, Schiano popularized chopping during his first stint at Rutgers, and it just stuck. To chop is a lifestyle. Chopping is winning. Chopping is slay. 

A fat sandwich is a type of hoagie stuffed absolutely full of whatever you want. Chicken fingers? Yeah! French fries? Sure! Mozzarella sticks? Why not? You’ll probably have a few your first week of school then maybe one every semester or so, and while it won’t be much, you have to do so because every alum you meet will ask you about fat sandwiches. It’s like a rite of passage.

Busch geese serve a very important purpose on campus: to humble us. Rest assured that if you’re ever unjustifiably feeling even a hair too confident, they will be there to put you in your place. My advice? Avoid eye contact and walk swiftly.

Last but most certainly not least: the RU Screw. WebReg taking extra time to load? RU Screw. Bus running half an hour late on your way to an exam? RU Screw. Tripping over a VEO scooter haphazardly left on the sidewalk on your way to class? RU Screw. It’s such a versatile, well-loved term that you’re sure to frequent it.

And that, if you think about it, is the beauty of Rutgers. In a state so diverse, on a campus so massive, the one thing that unites us all together is the sheer chaos of the institution we pay thousands of dollars to to call home. Yes, it’s a mess. But it’s our mess.

And we don’t love it all the time, but I can confidently say that as I enter my senior year here, I look back on my time here fondly, not despite the RU Screw but because of it. I can’t believe it’s almost over, but here I am, passing the torch to the next generation of Hansel potato wedge connoisseurs and Brower haters. Good luck!


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