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School Secrets: 5 things to know about Boston University

Posted by Alex Pearlman  January 15, 2012 09:18 AM

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boston university sign.jpgBy Melissa Werthmann

Founded in 1839 as Vermont's Newbury Biblical Institute,?Boston University?was renamed and moved to Boston in 1847. Today, BU boasts an enrollment of more than 30,000 students from over 140 countries and is a powerhouse of academics, research, and, of course, hockey.?The school's campus stretches from the Mass Ave. Bridge all the way to Allston -- and as if the beautiful views of the Boston skyline, Cambridge, and the Charles River don't quench the Terriers' thirst for awesomeness, they can also proudly bask in the glorious light of the CITGO sign in Kenmore Square.

The university has seen a fair number of impressive people walk its grounds: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., earned a Ph.D. in systemic theology from BU in 1955, and Howard Stern and Bill O'Reilly can both proudly display their BU diplomas?as well. (Rumor has it that Stern offered to donate enough money to build a new COM building, but the school turned him down.)

But the cool things don't end there. BU is the home of many more secrets, including the superstition that if any student walks across the BU crest in the center of Marsh Plaza, he or she won't graduate on time. Here are some of the others.

Terriers see dead people. Much like many dorms, the top floor of BU's Shelton Hall is a study lounge. Not impressed? Listen to this: Because Shelton Hall used to be a Sheraton Hotel, and the study lounge used to be a pool, the top half of the walls are glass panels, allowing for incredible views.

“It’s pretty cool because you can see the sunrise and sunset,” said Fernando Limbo, a senior studying health science. “It’s a really great place to do work and also get some really awesome, scenic views of the city.”

“It’s really pretty, especially at night,” said Na Eun Park, a communications major who graduated last semester. “And because not many people know it, it’s pretty quiet, and you can actually get some studying done.”

When the windows are open, you can even hear the roar of the crowd from Fenway Park -- or maybe it’s the roar of a dead guy. Playwright Eugene O’Neill died in one of the suites on the fourth floor and allegedly haunts the building; his stomping grounds have since been dubbed the “Writers’ Corridor.”

Aside from this awesome used-to-be-hotel, BU has converted plenty of other old buildings, including many auto manufacturing buildings and showrooms.

At BU, students shoot for the stars. Or, at least, they have the chance to look at them a lot. Terriers can use the Judson B. Coit Observatory, at the top of the College of Arts and Sciences building, to gaze up at the stars (and the city skyline). While students and the Boston University Astronomical Society have free reign, the observatory is also open to the public on Wednesday nights.

They also eat like royalty. Students go ga-ga over BU's West Campus dining hall. And who wouldn’t? The place offers Lobster Night, a visiting chef series, Dessert Night, and the delicious West Campus Burger (think of a grilled cheese pregnant with a succulent hamburger fetus).

“After four years here, out of all the dining halls, they probably have the best selection,” said Limbo, adding that the ambiance is nice, too. Park said she likes the fact that the West Campus dining hall is more health-conscious, offering a variety of environmentally friendly products, as well as sustainable, organic, and fair-trade foods.

The Terriers even take their good food one step further, by growing it themselves: If you climb to the top of the Stone Science Building, you'll find an organic garden on the roof! Limbo said the rooftop also has a compost area. “It really utilizes our city space to make it a green space,” he said.

BU has its own water park. And by that, I mean a lazy river. Located in BU's Fitness and Recreation Center (better knows as FitRec), the lazy river is part of the complex's Recreation Pool, which also includes a 15-person hot tub and water basketball. "They actually provide floaties for students, so you can just go and float around,” Limbo said. “It’s a good way after school for students to just go and relax.” He added that the lazy river serves another purpose: People sometimes walk against the current as part of a physical therapy routine.

For those Terriers that are a little less, well, lazy, FitRec's Aquatics Center offers a competition-style pool for swimming laps, too.

Terriers <3 acronyms. They've got quite an impressive list going, and they're not afraid to have some fun with them. For example, the acronym for the aforementioned College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) could also mean "Completely Average Students." The College of Fine Arts, or CFA, becomes the "College of False Aspirations," while CGS (College of General Studies) is "Crayon, Glue, and Scissors."

“Some of them are kind of mean, but everybody knows it’s just a joke,” said Park, who added that COM stands for both College of Communication and "College of Optional Math." “No one really takes it seriously, but I’d say the COM one is pretty accurate.”

Limbo said he's even heard alumni use these terms. “It’s neat,” he said. “They’re acronyms that will always stay with students.” And who wouldn’t want to look back 10 years from now and proudly proclaim that they graduated from the Boston University School of Management (a.k.a., SMG, or "Sex, Money, and Greed")?

BU students, what's your favorite thing about your school?

Interested in more 'School Secrets'? Find out what's weird and wacky about life at Northeastern, and check back for fun facts about the rest of Boston's institutions of higher education.

Photo by mburns (Flickr)

About Melissa -- I'm a journalism student at Northeastern University, originally from New Jersey. I love hiking, kayaking, and cereal, and I am a vegetarian. I'm afraid of nothing, except butterflies. I love Disney movies, and I hope to one day meet Betty White.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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