Indiana Daily Student

Hoosier Vocabulary: Terms all IU students should know

The Sample Gates are a focal point on IU's campus. There are multiple IU-centric terms international students will come to know during their time in Bloomington.
The Sample Gates are a focal point on IU's campus. There are multiple IU-centric terms international students will come to know during their time in Bloomington.

IU is home to a number of traditions, places and terms that may be unfamiliar to international students and freshmen alike. Here is a list of some common terms heard around campus and their meanings. With this list you’ll be talking like a “Hoosier” in no time! 


The Indiana Memorial Union, often called the IMU, is IU’s student union. Students gather at the IMU to study, eat and participate in activities. The IMU includes a number of study spaces, some decorated with elaborate stained glass windows or cozy fireplaces. 

In addition to studying, students can eat at the IMU. The IMU contains 10 restaurants that each specialize in a different type of cuisine. The Globe serves food from various local international restaurants, The Mix offers salads, Quarry Pie Co. serves pizza and Whitfield Grill specializes in hot dogs and hamburgers. There are also a number of beverages and sweet treats available at Starbucks, The Chocolate Moose and Sugar and Spice. 

Finally, students can participate in recreational activities at the IMU. The IMU is home to a bowling alley, billiards room and the Whittenberger Auditorium, which plays films for students to watch. 


Kirkwood Avenue, often shortened to Kirkwood, is the “most iconic street in Bloomington”, according to the Visit Bloomington website. Leading from campus into downtown Bloomington,  Kirkwood features many clothing stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Kirkwood is a popular place for students to spend their time and is bustling with activity, especially on weekends.


A syllabus is an outline of the topics taught and assignments required in a course. Professors will supply students with a syllabus at the beginning of each semester. The syllabus will explain the course schedule and include any major project deadlines or exam dates. In addition to explaining the course requirements, the syllabus often details the professor’s grading policy, office hours and contact information. The course’s required reading is also found in the syllabus. In short, just about any question a student may have for a professor can be answered by checking the syllabus.


RA stands for “resident assistant”. A resident assistant is a student staff member who lives in on-campus housing in order to help advise and supervise students. All RAs at IU are required to have already lived in on-campus housing for at least one semester prior to becoming a RA. This experience allows RAs to better help students adjust to college life. RAs will host occasional meetings to explain rules and check-in on students. 


The Student Recreational Sports Center, better known as the SRSC, is a gym and recreational sports facility on campus. The SRSC offers multiple strength and cardio areas and an indoor track. For those who prefer guided workouts, the SRSC hosts a number of group exercise classes such as yoga, pilates, cycling, cardio kickboxing, zumba, barre and more. 

As a sports facility, the SRSC features five basketball/volleyball courts, seven racquetball/wallyball courts, two squash courts, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and diving well, a Futsal court and numerous multipurpose courts, according to the IU Recreational Sports website. 

Little 5

The Little 500, sometimes referred to as the Little 5, is the United States’ largest collegiate bike race and a longstanding IU tradition. Inspired by the Indianapolis 500 automobile race, the Little 500 features four-person bike teams cycling around a quarter-mile track. There is both a men’s and women’s race. The men’s is 200 laps while the women’s is 100 laps, according to the IU Student Foundation website

The race is a treasured tradition, with 2022 marking the 71st running of the men’s Little 5 and the 34th running of the women’s Little 5. There are multiple cycling events throughout the year, including Qualifications. According to the IU Student Foundation website, the fastest 33 men’s and women’s teams qualify for the Little 5, which takes place at the end of April.

Sample Gates

The Sample Gates are two archways that mark the entrance to the Old Crescent, a gathering of IU’s historic campus buildings, according to the Visit Bloomington website. Made out of Indiana limestone, the Sample Gates serve as an entryway to IU from Kirkwood Avenue. The Sample Gates are an iconic part of IU where new students, old alumni and visiting families stop to take photos. 


Hoosier is a term for residents of Indiana and also a name for IU students. IU athletic teams are frequently referred to as the Indiana Hoosiers. No one is sure where Hoosier comes from, but the official Indiana website has a page dedicated to potential theories regarding the term’s origin. 

Dead Week

Dead Week is the nation-wide name for the week before final exams. This week is notoriously stressful since everyone on campus is busy studying for exams, writing papers and working on big projects. 


The Bloomington Police Department and IU Police Department are two separate entities. IUPD has primary jurisdiction on campus, as well as on streets that run through campus, according to the IUPD Bloomington webpage. IUPD Bloomington consists of 45 full-time certified police officers, as well as some part-time officers and student cadets. The rest of Bloomington falls under BPD’s jurisdiction. BPD employs 105 full-time certified police officers, according to the Bloomington website.

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