Bruin vocabulary defined

by Kayla Hayempour

Entering a new environment like college usually comes with a steep learning curve. Typically, students have to adjust to university culture, demanding classes and difficult living situations, but newcomers to UCLA are faced with a unique additional task: embracing the lexicon of a true Bruin. For those unfamiliar with the terminology used on campus or those who just need a refresher on Bruin vocabulary, here are some decoded common phrases.

1. Duffl

A local convenience fulfillment center that delivers snacks, drinks and other essential items around the UCLA area. Students can place orders via Duffl’s website or app, and a “racer” on a Bird scooter will deliver items to the address in 10 minutes or less. You can catch these racers in bright orange outerwear dropping off equally bright orange bags to apartment doors or even to the library for those who need a study snack. The popular delivery service is open until 1 a.m. and is now a verb in Bruin vernacular. Ran out of toilet paper? Just “Duffl” it.

2. Bruinwalk

One word, two meanings. Bruin Walk refers to the main walking path that runs through the middle of campus. It starts at the top of the Hill and continues down past Pauley Pavilion, the Bruin Statue and Ackerman Union. It’s typical to see people advertising or fundraising for clubs on this walkway, so don’t be surprised if you end up collecting a flyer or two on your way to class.

Bruinwalk is also a website run by the Daily Bruin, where students can write reviews for classes, professors and even apartments. It’s a great resource to use when planning and enrolling in classes, since you can get insight on a professor’s grade distribution and teaching style from other students who have already taken the class. Reviews are also completely anonymous, which means you’re reading an honest rating on what a professor is like.

3. Andre

An extension of Bruinwalk. Andre Oliver can be found in Bruin Plaza approaching passersby with an inquiry: “Can I ask you a question, boss?” Having been on campus for over 15 years, he tries to solicit donations from students and other campus visitors for a nonprofit organization to help homeless people.

4. Bombshelter

A nickname given to an enclosed food court found on South Campus in the Court of Sciences. The boxy, indoor space is reminiscent of a backyard bomb shelter, and it used to have a burger deli with the same name.

5. Block Party

Not to be confused with the monthly UCLA Block Party in Westwood Village, “Block Party” is a spontaneous street party on Roebling Avenue that typically includes setting objects — such as couches — on fire. The bonfire usually happens as a victory celebration after a big football or basketball game win, but there’s no telling when it might happen next. People share via word of mouth when it will occur, so keep your ears peeled to see if you can attend the next one before the fire department shows up.

6. 4s Up

Holding up the number four with your fingers to represent the four letters in UCLA. It’s typical to see athletes pose with the hand sign, but it’s also popular among students and fans at sporting events to show their school spirit and pride. Throwing a 4s Up is essentially synonymous with “Go Bruins!”

7. Death Stairs

A steep, 60-step staircase found on the Hill. The Death Stairs start at the bottom of Café 1919 and lead up to Rieber Court, a frequent climb dorm residents take to reach popular food stops such as Rendezvous, food trucks and the Study at Hedrick. The shortcut is direct but arduous and is one of the many uphill walking battles found on UCLA’s campus. The “Freshman 15” may not be an issue for Bruins after all.

8. The Tunnels

An elusive underground tunnel system that connects all the major buildings on campus. The tunnels are used for maintenance and storage now, but some students still try to find their entrances and explore them late at night.

9. Kuruvungna/Tongva Steps — Formerly Janss Steps

The famous staircase that connects Wilson Plaza to Dickson Court, the area where Royce Hall and Powell Library are. With big grassy hills lining both sides, it’s a common place to see people picnicking, napping and hanging up hammocks or slack lines. On warmer days, some opt to set up a slip-and-slide or ice block, sledding down the slopes on giant blocks of ice. In 2020, the Undergraduate Students Association Council passed a resolution to call on UCLA to rename Janss Steps to Tongva Steps after the Indigenous Gabrielino-Tongva people who previously inhabited the area. Soon after, another proposal was introduced to revise the name to Kuruvungna Steps, to more accurately represent the Gabrieleño tribe. While UCLA has not officially recognized either of these names, you can hear them being used in Bruins’ everyday lexicon.

10. Treehouse

An apartment building located near the corner of Landfair Avenue on Strathmore Drive. Actually named Sheats Apartments or L’Horizon, this iconic apartment building on Strathmore Drive is nicknamed “Treehouse” for the large tree that runs through the middle of the structure. The complex is also known for the bustling parties they’ve hosted in past years.

11. Undie Run

One of the most popular UCLA end-of-quarter traditions. At midnight on the Wednesday of finals week, Bruins gather in their underwear to celebrate the end of the term, running from the intersection of Strathmore Drive and Gayley Avenue up to Royce Hall and Powell Library. During spring quarter, it’s common for seniors to wear their graduation stoles.

With this guide, you can understand and speak like a seasoned Bruin!

Illustration by Annabel Braunstein/BruinLife.

Illustration by Annabel Braunstein/BruinLife.

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