You want me to what you into Shafer? A VCU dictionary of terms

This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.

Georgia Geen, Executive Editor

Yeah, you might have foreign language credit from high school, but have you studied your VCU vocab? I didn’t think so. Here’s a brief dictionary to get you started on your road to fluency. 

Brandt (n.): This suite-style freshman dorm is located at 710 W Franklin St. next to its older neighbor, Rhoads. It offers four- and eight-person suites, all with double bedrooms, connected by private bathrooms and a common area. 

Cabaniss Hall (n.): A traditional residence hall for students of all years located on the MCV Campus at 615 N 8th St. It’s a solid 30-minute walk from the Monroe Park Campus, but students living in this dorm can use the Connector Express or GRTC Pulse for faster transportation. 

Cabell Library (n.): VCU’s Monroe Park Campus library is located at 901 Park Ave. which attracts tens of thousands of visitors a week during the school year. Its databases, accessible at, are essential for any student working on a research project. The Starbucks located near the front entrance is heavily utilized — just don’t expect to get out of there any time soon if you go right after or before class. That line gets really long. 

Carver (n.): This neighborhood a few blocks north of the Monroe Park Campus houses a mixture of families and students. It also boasts Sugar Shack Donuts at 1001 N. Lombardy St. 

Connector Express (n.): A bus route operated through the university’s RamRide service with a few stops on and between the Monroe Park and MCV campuses. Students, faculty and staff can use the buses by swiping their VCU IDs upon entering. Guest passes — which expire after four days — are available at During the fall and spring semesters, the buses run between 6 a.m. and midnight on weekdays and 8 a.m. to midnight on weekends. A limited schedule is available during the summer semester. For transportation between the two campuses outside its hours of operation, see RamSafe or GRTC Pulse. Note that the regular Campus Connector route, which you might have heard of, was discontinued in January. It was identical to the Connector Express, only with more stops. 

The Commons (n.): Home to Taco Bell, Chick-fil-a, Pizza Hut and Freshii, this student hub is popular for dining and student events. Just be prepared for the long lines at Chick-fil-a on Saturdays, when the location becomes Swipe-able, and at Subway on Sundays, its Swipe day. The Commons is located at 907 Floyd Ave. and houses organizations like the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity. 

The Fan (n.): Named after its, you guessed it, fanned shape, The Fan is a neighborhood located west of VCU, home to countless row houses converted into somewhat oddly shaped apartments. It’s a popular neighborhood for students to live in, featuring a few restaurants like Kuba Kuba at 1601 Park Ave. and Bombolini at 1606 W. Main St. The area also has quite a few picturesque, and expensive, single-family homes. 

Gladding Residence Center (GRC) (n.): Undoubtedly VCU’s bougiest on-campus housing, GRC is located at 711 W. Main St. Residents have access to kitchens on every floor and live in a mixture of semi-suite and traditional rooms. All communal bathrooms are gender neutral with full doors enclosing individual toilet and shower stalls. 

GRTC Pulse (n.): The Pulse is the Greater Richmond Transit Company, or GRTC, rapid-service route that spans the city from east to west between Rockett’s Landing and Willow Lawn. Like other GRTC routes, it’s free to VCU students, faculty and staff. You’ll receive a Go Pass to use to access Pulse and other local routes. 

Jackson Ward (n.): Once dubbed the “Black Wall Street,” this neighborhood between the Monroe Park Campus and downtown now features several blocks of art galleries on Broad Street and a number of high-end restaurants among its traditional scenery and locations, which some consider signs of gentrification. A number of students live in apartments in the area and enjoy the art galleries’ “first Friday” festivities. 

Johnson (n.): VCU’s most hipster dorm — located at 801 W. Franklin St. — features single-, double- and triple-occupancy rooms, crown molding and possibly ghosts. The aesthetic and the elevators are reminiscent of the Disney World ride, Tower of Terror. 

Jonah’s (n.): Somewhat similar to Shafer Dining Court, but better. Oh, so much better. Located on the MCV Campus, it’s just a Connector Express or GRTC Pulse ride away for most students. Almost everything, including made-to-order hamburgers, pizza, cheesecake and a salad bar, is Swipe-able. Hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. 

Monroe Park Campus (n.): Home to Shafer Dining Court, Cabell Library and most undergraduate housing, this area — sprawling north and south between Cary and Marshall streets and roughly confined east to west between Belvidere and Harrison streets — is where most undergraduate students spend a majority of their time. 

MCV Campus (n.): Unless you’re assigned to live in Cabaniss Hall, you might not set foot in this place at all during your first few months at VCU. Located downtown, only a few blocks from the state Capitol, MCV houses the VCU Medical Center and the university’s health science programs. Food carts are prevalent in this area because of the high number of downtown professionals in need of a quick lunch. Also, no freshman year is complete without a trip to Jonah’s.  

RamSafe (n.): This evening shuttle service is available to students, faculty and staff between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. 365 days a year, with a few days of limited hours during winter break. Users can request rides to locations on and near the Monroe Park and MCV campuses via the RamSafe app, online at or over-the-phone at 828-SAFE. If you’re looking to ride during peak hours, get ready to wait. In the past, students have complained about long wait times and confusing pick-up locations. Note that transportation between campuses is only available on RamSafe outside of the Connector Express hours of operation. 

Rhoads (n.): Uglier than Johnson with safer elevators, Rhoads is a traditional residence hall located at 710 W Franklin St. and connected to Brandt

Shafer Dining Court (n.): Pretty much everything you’ve heard about Shafer is true. The good things? The variety, the ice-cream machine that usually works, and it’s open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Oh, and it’s all-you-can-eat for one Swipe. The bad things? Pretty much everything else. 

Swipes (n., v.): Neglected by most freshmen, coveted by upperclassmen. The staple of every dining plan, those living in freshman dorms — like Johnson, Brandt, Rhoads, GRC and Cabaniss — are required to have hundreds of these. One swipe equals one meal — or entry for one person into Shafer — from VCU’s dining locations during their swipe hours. Note: not everything on the menus can be swiped. If you’re feeling generous, you can become a Swifey for someone without a dining plan. 

Swifey (n.): A generous soul who Swipes food for someone without a dining plan. Swifey relationships can be long-term, casual or so brief you don’t even learn the person’s name.

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