Over the past academic year, there has been an explosion of new or renewed campus activities, pop culture phenomena, tech trends, generational shifts, and social movements started by or significantly impacting students. Most can be summed up in a single word, says Dan Reimold, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Tampa, for the Washington Post. As someone who monitors student life and student media daily, I’ve noticed a small number of words appearing more frequently, prominently or controversially during the past two semesters on campuses nationwide. Some were brand-new. Others were redefined or reached a tipping point of interest or popularity. And still others showed a remarkable staying power, carrying over from semesters and years past. I’ve selected 15 as finalists for what I am calling the “2011-2012 College Word of the Year Contest.” Okay, a few are actually acronyms or short phrases. But altogether the terms — whether short-lived or seemingly permanent — offer a unique glimpse at what students participated in, talked about, fretted over, and fought for this past fall and spring.
As Time Magazine’s Touré confirms, “The words we coalesce around as a society say so much about who we are. The language is a mirror that reflects our collective soul.”
Let’s take a quick look in the collegiate rearview mirror…
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