The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Do You Speak Bates?

Evan Ma/Courtesy Photo
View of Roger Williams Hall, once known as “The Bill” and still is by many alumni.

It’s Chicken Patty Satty, do you want to study in P’Gill and watch the ‘Cats on Garc before walking by the Puddle on the way to 280 then Frye? To a Batesie, that sentence would be crystal clear, but it is gibberish to an outsider.

The moment baby Bobcats arrive, they’re enveloped in Bates lingo. They move into their FYCs (first-year centers), go on their AESOP (annual entering student orientation program), and then have their FYS (first-year seminar). FYI, if you haven’t noticed by now, we have a lot of acronyms.

There is a secret language at Bates. Sure, it’s not too secret if you go here, but to those who don’t, it might sound like we speak a different tongue when talking about an academic building, a house, or an event.

Similar to other colleges, a large part of the vernacular is location-based. This is both broad to the city/town the campus is located in and individual dorms or dining halls. Bates is located in “the Lew,” and Batesies would know that meant Lewiston, Maine, but others would not. Similarly, the University of Missouri (Mizzou) is located in Columbia, Missouri. The town is nicknamed COMO from the first two letters of Columbia and the state abbreviation for Missouri. Many Bates students might not know this, but it makes sense if you go to Mizzou.

To name or not to name? Word choice is equally important as shortening terms. For general buildings, many Batesies choose to call locations as they are, rather than their namesake. Having one library allows students to call the George and Helen Ladd Library, “The library.” Singularity is the default at a small school, as seen through Commons, the one dining hall we pride ourselves on. It means we see everyone, even when we may not want to. But, a few names are used frequently. When someone says “Chase” you may need to ask for clarification. Are they talking about Chase House, Chase Hall, or Chase Conrad (my dear friend)?

“Going to the Peter J. Gomes Chapel, (probably not) gonna get married” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “the Chapel” does. Alas, Bates students might not know whom each building is named for, and the nature of the colloquial terms makes it unnecessary to use the full title for buildings, hence, we drop “Hall” on many buildings.

But what about old nicknames? Do old nicknames die hard? Roger Williams Hall, once a dorm, now an academic building, was not always referred to by its full, proper name. The current home of the language departments was once referred to as “The Bill” and still is by many alumni. It now houses the Center for Global Education, but alums often (fondly?) remember its heyday as the allegedly “druggie” dorm. Clearly, Roger Williams has always been known for taking you places.

This past summer, Bates did a 180 on 280. Renamed for John Gillespie ‘80, the dorm was previously referred to by its street address, 280 College Street. The current student body continues to call it 280, but when in the future will it no longer use its former name? One might imagine a situation akin to Prince’s rebranding where the building becomes known as the dorm formerly known as 280. When those in the class of 2026, the last class to be first-years before it was renamed, return for their reunions, will the then-current students call it Gillespie? Only time will tell for this one.

Old wisdom says wherever you go, go with all your heart. Bates wisdom tells you that wherever you go, it’ll probably have a weird nickname. A wild night at Bates might include a trip to Palace, 91, and Zoo, without becoming royalty or seeing animals (but no guarantees you won’t have nightmares about Elm Street). And let me tell you, my father does not live at Daddy’s.

Giving places special names helps make this place seem special; Bates students take pride in this unique place we go to college– naturally, we try to make the food we eat seem special too. What is a weekend without Chicken Patty Satty and Sundae Sunday? But do these food staples (sorry, traditions) make up for the lack of options in Commons on Saturdays and Sundays?

Since Bates holds a never-had-never-will policy on Greek life, saving all of us from the trials of learning the Greek alphabet, this instead means that what social events we do have naturally have special terms. Naturally, we get to get all dressed up for Gala, Snowball, and Lick-It (rather, undressed). Explaining the middle-school-dance-esque premises of the semesters’ most anticipated events calls on us to lean into our Bates vocabulary, explaining to people from other schools that our oddly-titled festivities are “in a gym, but it’s fun, I swear!”

Much like the dances, the Bates community is brought together by our shared vocabulary. We just get it! It’s not always easy to talk to friends or family members about life at Bates over breaks because they don’t understand what we are talking about. Our language for our lives here helps constitute and reify our unique experience here. Since other colleges also do this, we might not understand the lingo of other schools, but there is nothing quite like coming back to campus and reconnecting with roommates, teammates, and classmates to talk about the people, places, and things that make Bates, Bates.

It might get confusing when people come to visit. No, we aren’t talking about Vail, Colorado, or Florida State University. Lingo helps us feel “in-the-know”; it makes our small school feel smaller and our community more tight-knit. Using abbreviations or acronyms enhances the culture of a school. True to our Bates ethos of inclusivity, the specific lingo isn’t necessarily designed for exclusivity, but rather a way of reinforcing our tight-knit community. After all, you don’t need to head for Argentina, Japan, or France to experience language immersion (sorry, CGE), there’s plenty of language to learn right here at Bates!


Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Inez Johnson
Inez Johnson, Assistant Forum Editor

Inez is a junior hailing from Dallas, Texas double majoring in Politics and Sociology, and minoring in Hispanic Studies. When she isn’t unleashing her opinions in the Student, you’ll find her running cross country and track, listening to Taylor Swift and putting extra sprinkles on her commons soft serve.

Comments (0)

All comments must have an attached name and email. Please direct comments to the content of the article; attacking writers in any way, shape or form will not be tolerated. Any comments which do not meet these requirements will not be published.
All The Bates Student Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *