Paternoville, the famous tent city used by students outside the stadium prior to home football games, has changed its name to “Nittanyville,” clearly defining a decision not to use Joe Paterno’s name on anything at Penn State.
The 10 students who comprise the board of directors for the group felt that keeping Joe Paterno’s name attached would cause a distraction in the wake of the scandal that has engulfed the university since the November arrest of the former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges.
Sandusky’s arrest led to the firing of Paterno, who died in January, along with a handful of senior university officials, and the conviction of Sandusky on 45 counts of sexually abusing boys. Last Thursday, Louis J. Freeh, the former federal judge and director of the F.B.I. who spent seven months examining the Sandusky scandal at Penn State, issued a report concluding failures at every level of the university — including by Paterno — in dealing with accusations against Sandusky. Calls to remove a statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium have been plentiful, leading in part to the student group’s decision Monday.
“It was clear that anything with Joe’s name on it was a big deal,” said Jeff Taylor, Nittanyville’s vice president and a Penn State senior. “We had national media attention and we knew it would come back because we saw the statue getting it, so we knew we had to talk about it because our main goal is to go to football games and to support the football team.”
The name change is not without its critics, but the student board felt the time had come to move forward.
Taylor said students in the city faced vocal opposition in their support of Paterno before the Penn State-Nebraska game a week after Sandusky’s arrest.