“Paternoville,” the group that “manages the encampment of Penn State students outside Beaver Stadium for home football games,” has been renamed to “Nittanyville,” according to a press release from the organization now named the Nittanyville Coordination Committee.
Nittanyville’s four major officers and six organizational officers met via conference call and voted on the matter, according to the release.
Nittanyville President Troy Weller said the decision “was a culmination of factors” and not related directly to the release of former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report on Thursday. He said coming to the decision was a “very, very difficult process” with “a lot of careful consideration.”
Weller (senior-journalism) also confirmed that the organization’s leaders met with the late former head football coach Joe Paterno’s son, Jay, before announcing the release, so as not to blindside the family.
“We just wanted to let Jay know where we were at in the process, and he was extremely understanding,” he said. “We didn’t want to, I guess, surprise anybody or anything like that.”
In the release, Weller said it’s a “new era” in Penn State football, and the name change was an effort to refocus on the “overall team and the thousands of students who support it.”
According to the release, administrators in Student Affairs and the Athletic Department have been notified of the name change.
Noah Simmons, Class of 2012 and a member of what was Paternoville, said the organization’s changes may violate its constitution. He wrote to The Daily Collegian to file a formal complaint against Nittanyville.
“The officers blatantly ignored ALL of these elements of the Constitution. I request that these unconstitutional changes be removed, and that the officers of the Paternoville Coordination Committee be instructed to follow their constitution and mission statement in the future,” he wrote in an email.
He said in an interview that Nittanyville’s leadership did not contact any of the members, making its constitutional changes potentially null and void.
“Since they didn’t go through any of these things, their decision doesn’t have the effect that it would,” Simmons said. “They would have to call a meeting of all the members.”
He said there was no notification to Paternoville members about the name update prior to the press release.
“They’re usually pretty good about getting in touch with us about stuff like that,” Simmons said. “It was no communication whatsoever with the members of the organization.”
Simmons said other student organizations that he was a member of, including the Mock Trial Club in which he was the treasurer, had sessions to make changes to the constitution.
He said the reaction of many members of Paternoville after the name change is a sign that such an action would not have been approved in a public meeting.
“I really think that if that had called a meeting and had people vote on it, I don’t think they would have gotten the number of people to vote,” he said. “I don’t think the majority of people want to change the name.”
A Facebook group in response to the change, called “What the Hell is a Nittanyville?” formed and had 46 likes as of press time Monday.
Some Penn State students said Paterno’s legacy as a coach is enough to keep the old “Paternoville” name intact.
“He gave 60 years of his life to his program,” Brad Goldman (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said. “[One mistake] does not erase his legacy.”
Christopher Finuoli echoed the sentiment, saying he “hates” the decision.
“It should be left alone to show how Joe Paterno made Penn State football how it is today,” Finuoili (freshman-engineering) said.
Despite concerns about maintaining Paterno’s memory on the football field, Weller said “Nittanyville” was chosen because it maintains much of the old identity of the group. They wanted to pick something that was still tied to the university, as Paterno was, he said.
“If we did just ‘The Ville,’ it seemed like we were running away from Penn State, and it’s a great place,” he said.
Weller said nothing will change about the campout experience beyond the name, something he said he “can’t stress enough” to potential members.
“I think all of us want to make it better, a lot more fun and a lot more enjoyable,” he said. “I’m really excited for next year, and I can’t wait to get out there and scream my head off at the first game.”
Former Paternoville Vice President Michael Higgins, Class of 2012, said the organization’s 2012-13 leaders did look to him and former President John Tecce for advice, but the decision was not in the works prior to the end of his tenure in April.
“I fully support the current officers,” he said. “It’s a very tough decision to make.”
Nicole Solano also said she supports the decision, as it would benefit Penn Staters as a group.
“I feel that our community as a whole needs to start healing, and if they feel like changing a name will benefit the community, then do it,” Solano (freshman-criminal justice) said. “Maybe it’s time to start a new chapter in Penn State history.”
Penn State student Kyle Sheely said the name change is, as Weller described, a move forward for the football program and the university.
“I think it’s going to take a while for me to get used to hearing that, since it’s been called Paternoville for as long as I can remember,” Sheely (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said. “This is just another indicator that Penn State’s football program, and the university as a whole, is transition into a new era.”
The statement also said that students who camp out will donate a portion of their proceeds from their fundraising efforts to the Center for the Protection of Children, which the university announced plans to establish in December after child sex abuse charges were filed against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The center will be based at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
The Twitter handle for Nittanyville has already been changed to @NittanyvillePSU.
Collegian staff writers Tim Gilbert and Paige Minemyer contributed to this report. Tess Stairiker and Nick Vassilakos also contributed.