“Which resco are you in?” I yelled over the deafening chatter of a first-year orientation event. A current sophomore had introduced me to the term earlier in the summer, so I relayed it with a sense of pride. Finally, a Yale abbreviation I successfully integrated into my daily jargon and a step towards sounding like the rest. But before the equally naive first-year could respond, an upperclassman interjected, shaking their head in disapproval: “It’s college or residential college.”
The portmanteau — a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others — isn’t the first of its kind at Yale. Just as resco blends “residential” and “college” to convey our hallmark housing system, FroCo loosely merges “freshmen” and “counselor” to describe the senior peer leaders, and L-Dub combines “Lanman” and the first letter of “Wright” to distinguish the cozy Old Campus hall.
For many, resco is more phonetically efficient than an otherwise mouthful. “It’s a lot easier than saying ‘residential college’ and it’s kinda catchy,” suggests Abby Davis ’24.
Resco is also more logical than the more arbitrary combinations. “Resco was easier to understand than any other abbreviations,” says David Zhou, a visiting student from Beijing. “When I first arrived at campus, I had no idea what a FroCo was. Where does the o come from? Froyo? A frozen counselor?”
Despite its efficiency and logic, the portmanteau has not been added to the list of Yale lingo. Worse, resco has sparked upperclassmen attempts to eradicate the term, in favor of the strongholds “residential college” and “college.”
This trivial controversy brings to light the tension between preserving tradition and breaking it, as well as the way in which Yale language constantly changes to capture and better fit the circumstances of our time.
Most fingers point to the current sophomore class. An anonymous senior complained about how those “Zoom kids” paraded onto campus last fall, disseminating random terms without the supervision of wiser elders.” Before coming to Yale, Tori Sondeide ’25 remembers hearing the term spoken aloud by a sophomore explaining which resco he was in.
Some sophomores admit it themselves. “We came onto campus during the pandemic year, when there was no one there to tell us what was right and what was wrong,” says an anonymous sophomore.
But the seeds of resco were actually planted far wider. Underclassmen report that they saw resco written in admissions advertisements, spoken aloud during admissions events and even passed down by current upperclassmen. Karla Ramos Gonzalez ’25 first heard resco said by a student ambassador during a Yale information session this past winter. Maya Alvear ’25 remembers reading resco in emails sent to prospective students and hearing it from Yale student YouTubers explaining the housing system. Grace Bu ’24 thinks that resco existed before the class of 2024 set foot on campus.
Regardless of whether the portmanteau was born from current sophomores, the Admissions Office marketing, or even current upperclassmen, it has already grown popular among first years — particularly in the written form. By the spring of 2021, resco had rapidly spread across Discord, GroupMe and other social media exchanges between incoming members of the class of 2025. Now, most first years waver between saying “resco” and “residential college”; others say “residential college” but write “resco.” Most are not aware that the term contradicts traditional lingo.
The question arises: Can upperclassmen eradicate the term from Yale lingo, as their time at Yale wanes and new generations follow?
During a FroCo meeting, Charlie Uchno ’22 warned his group to avoid the term. “I, as a FroCo, wanted to set up my FroCo-ees for utmost success. One of the ways to achieve success is to use historically normalized terms. I wanted to do what was best for them.” He isn’t the only advocate.
“If I heard one of my frosh say resco, I would say ‘residential college’ or ‘college’ in response to them and try to reinforce that none of the upperclassmen use resco,” says Kynzie Clark ’22, another FroCo. “There are just so many language disconnects between underclassmen and the graduating class, which is the only class to have a full year on campus. It’s strange to see how the virtual year last year has created such a divide between people that were on campus before last year and people who weren’t.”
Other upperclassmen surrender their control, acknowledging that language is dynamic even at a 300-year-old institution. “I think it’s going to take another couple of years before the trend catches on,” suggests Mette Køchs-Nielsen ’23. But for now, Yale language is changing — whether upperclassmen have control over it or not.