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Nittanyville Campers Split on Organization’s Name

There’s a lot of hostility in the “Nittanyville vs. Paternoville” debate on our comment pages. Every time we cover the student-organized tent city outside Beaver Stadium, there is an immediate spattering of comments quite upset at the term Nittanyville, often going so far as to blame Onward State for the name change itself.

We wanted you to know that we see and hear these comments, but we also wanted to clear up just how the student club bureaucracy works. Nittanyville is a registered student organization (RSO) with the Office of Student Activities at Penn State. Each RSO is given a financial account with the university and is able to request student activity fee funds. Each RSO must also file a constitution with the university and elect club officers annually.

In July 2012, the Paternoville officers (all students) voted unanimously to change the name to Nittanyville. This change was filed with the Office of Student Activities. The official club directory now lists Nittanyville as the group name, which can be searched here.

Whatever our personal opinions might be on the name change, the official name registered with the university is Nittanyville. Just like we don’t call Penn State the Farmers’ High School, we don’t call Nittanyville Paternoville. The word choice is not a result of our own volition, but of a recognition for the officially registered name.

So, now that that’s cleared up, what does the average student think? Everyone claims to have a “pulse” on the student body these days, but most examples are purely anecdotal. Many students camp out for every single game, and their opinions tend to get ignored in the comment section banter.

For this reason, we went to Nittanyville on the Friday before the Kent State game and polled 58 students. Here are our methods:

  • Five Onward State writers went to Nittanyville at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, September 20th.
  • Campers were asked if they wanted to fill out a brief survey regarding the decision to change Paternoville’s name to Nittanyville.
  • Campers were given as much time as they needed to mull over their answers to the eight questions they were asked. Six of the questions were related to the Nittanyville/Paternoville discussion, and two were about their current semester and how many times they have camped out.
  • Campers were given four options to every question: “yes,” “no,” “I don’t know,” and “no comment.” Campers were also allowed to skip questions as they saw fit.
  • Campers were randomly approached. Basically, anyone we saw walking around the tents, we asked.

Seems simple enough, right? As you can see our polling was hardly scientific, it was more of a simple poll to gauge what a handful of campers thought. Below are the results for every question asked, with comments from campers at the bottom. Before we jump into this, a few disclaimers:

  • This polling was not done scientifically and should not be viewed as such.
  • The poll does not reflect the beliefs of all Nittanyville campers.
  • All observations at the end of the post belong to the author and do not reflect the beliefs of anyone else.

With that in mind, here are our findings:

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Here are comments from the campers who were willing to provide a comment:

  • “Who cares? Move on PLEASE!!”
  • “#409 #O’Brientown #BoT #SweetCaroline”
  • “Paterno has his name where he wanted it, the library.”
  • “There’s no reason why alumni should make such a big deal about a name change. There are many more important issues that everyone should be focused on.”
  • “Joe is no longer the coach, but O’Brienville just doesn’t sound as good.”
  • “At the time, it was appropriate, but I don’t think it makes a difference. It’s been a tradition so the name should eventually be restored.”
  • “WE ARE”
  • “Please change”
  • “WE ARE”
  • “Nittanyville, Paternoville, JackOffBeforeTheGameville, as long as I’m having fun I don’t care what you call it.”
  • “Student run org — alumni don’t have a say in what we do.”

And several notes from the post’s author:

  • The class breakdown went like this: 12 freshmen, 10 sophomores, 14 juniors, and 22 seniors. Graduate students and students in five-year programs were included as seniors.
  • The number of times that students camped out at Paternoville/Nittanyville ranged from once (29 students) to 32 times (one student). Students camped out an average of 5.77 times, although that number is a bit off, as two students listed that they camped out “25+” times and “31+” times.
  • The comments from campers, for the most part, are pro-Nittanyville, despite most of the polls being pro-Paternoville. Also, the polls show that campers narrowly think Nittanyville should be renamed Paternoville, despite many of them thinking that renaming the organization was unnecessary. Draw your own conclusions from that. Some of the questions were very similar but had varying results.

While this poll almost certainly won’t result in any major change, we hope that it starts civilized discussion among students, alumni, and the university. As you can see, there is far from a consensus.

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