Opinions, Column

Ruby Vs Rubi: Stop The Madness

I never thought this column would break a scandal—let alone resolve one—but today it will do both. 

Steel yourself for some wholly insignificant, but wildly upsetting news. Are you sitting down? Are you ready? 

No one—not The Heights, not your friends, not even your mother—knows how to properly abbreviate the name of Rubenstein Hall. Equally distressing: no one knows how to properly abbreviate Rubinoff vodka. 

We are living in linguistic chaos. 

I first realized the egregious lack of semantic consensus while going through the senior housing process. As my housing group engaged in spirited debate (read: vehemently disagreeing at every turn) about our ranking of potential homes for our final year on the Heights, I felt confident texting about (and passing arbitrary judgment on) Iggy, 2150, the Mods, Voute, and Gabelli. But with Rubenstein, I faltered. 

How to spell it? I did not know. 

Ruby? Rubi? Rubee? (Okay, definitely not the last one). Which led me to the next question: what’s the proper abbreviated spelling of the infamously bad party staple Rubinoff vodka, also known as Ruby/Rubi? Can they share an abbreviation? That seems like a nightmare—think of how bad the texts would be: 

“I’m headed to Rubi w/ Rubi” or “I picked up the Ruby—I’ll meet you back at Ruby.”


So we’re left with a choice. The building: Rubi or Ruby? The vodka: Ruby or Rubi? There can only be one of each. Why? Because in this crazy, mixed-up world, I think we deserve nice things. 

As the first step in my Rubi/Ruby investigation, I consulted John-Jack, a current Rubenstein resident. To my chagrin, John-Jack revealed he had blindly accepted the “Rubi” spelling, but he earned my trust as a comrade in linguistic arms by joining me in the investigative trenches. In his role as assistant (to the) meme columnist, he consulted with fellow Rubenstein dwellers and confirmed that no consensus existed among them. He even found two people who used Rubi/Ruby interchangeably, about whom he said, “Grow a spine and stand for something.” 

I couldn’t agree more.

Like any top-tier journalist of our contemporary moment, I followed this up with a poll on my Instagram story. Ruby or Rubi? I demanded that the people decide. Out of roughly 100 voters, the majority—62 percent—backed “Ruby” for the building while 82 percent supported “Rubi” for the vodka. 

As James Surowiecki’s seminal work The Wisdom of the Crowds would predict, the masses (all 62-ish of them) got it right. My subsequent deep research dive backed up the democratic decision.

First, I turned to BC’s official Residential Life webpage. While there was a tab discussing Rubenstein Hall, there was no mention of its nickname (surprising), nor was there mention of vodka (less surprising). I clicked the “Get Answers” link at the bottom of the page hoping for more information. I did not, in fact, get answers. 

Disillusioned, I turned to The Heights’ archives, assuming journalists would’ve made a choice one way or the other for style-consistency purposes. They had not. 

In 2005 and 2015 The Heights dubbed Rubenstein Hall “Rubi” while in 2016 and 2018 it switched to “Ruby.” Consistent only in its inconsistency, The Heights also gave Rubinoff vodka the nickname “Ruby” in 2014 and 2019, but called it “Rubi” in 2018.  

At this point, I sought the irrefutability of chronology. The existing trademarks on Rubinoff vodka (with “first use anywhere” dating back to 1954) predate Rubenstein hall, which was named in 1974. This, combined with the convenient “i” already present in the name, led me to conclude that if anything was going to be called “Rubi,” it should be the vodka. 

This decision was solidified by Rubenstein’s strong association with its neighboring dorm, Ignacio, known colloquially as “Iggy.” If we’re following whatever linguistic rules brought us “Iggy” rather than “Iggi” (which, as Jack-John noted, would be cooler because it’s a palindrome), then its sister dorm has to be “Ruby.” It is only right. 

As I told my editor when I pitched this column: the time has come for somebody to take a stand and make a call—I’ve decided that somebody is me. 

It’s “Ruby” for the building and “Rubi” for the vodka. 

You disagree? Fair enough. Consider calling Rubenstein “the Stein”—a nickname that was proposed by a 2005 Heights columnist and is great both for the beer nod and for the way it allows you to avoid this whole ordeal. 

And, since I know you’re wondering: yes, my back does hurt from carrying the weight of trivial, completely unsolicited semantic decision-making. But that’s just another day in the line of duty on the BC meme beat. 

Featured Graphic by Olivia Charbonneau/ Heights Editor

April 11, 2021