In Defense of ‘The Nationer’

Author’s Note: This article appears in the Feb. 23 issue of The Villanovan

By now, you’ve probably seen the new social media craze to strike the University, VU memes. Memes are nothing new, but making them University-specific helped them catch fire. One of my personal favorites is the one sporting a picture of the typical college freshman. An enthusiastic college sweatshirt-wearing freshman looks excited for his first day of classes, only to have a clever insult, written in block letters, put him in his place. The University related ones are even better, such as ‘’Tries to take shuttle from west to south’/‘Ends up at Rosemont College.’” Classic freshman mistake. I know, because I’ve done it.

But the University college freshman has a relative, and this one lacks both a meme and a particular grade. This relative is the Nationer, and you know at least one, and probably a whole Blue Key family’s worth. Now what is a Nationer? The term has been rising in popularity over the last year or so, creeping its way into status updates and casual conversations, and I got a hold of an expert to set the record straight.

Recently graduated Buzzkill columnist Rob Wilber is an authority on all things Nationer, and when I needed the term defined, the choice was obvious. His nearly 500 answers to my request just affirmed what I already knew: Wilber knows Nationers.

“To paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography, you know a Nationer when you see one,” Wilber said. “Although difficult to fit into a singular archetype, most Nationers do share several characteristics that can help an amateur Nationer-watcher confirm they are in the presence of the real McCoy.”

My definition of a Nationer is similar. Nationers are in love with the University, and get involved with as many clubs and groups as soon as possible. They also tend to view it in an unreasonably positive light, defending the University even if common sense proves otherwise. If you’re a student who’s ever said, “Man, I can’t believe I do all this work for (insert University-specific organization),” then you’re a Nationer. If you have ever painted your face for a ’Cats basketball game or pledged your undying love to Jay Wright or Scottie Reynolds, you’re a Nationer.  If you ever wore a ’Nova sweatshirt on top of a ’Nova T-shirt with a ’Nova lanyard in your pocket, then you my friend, are a Nationer. Let’s be honest, just by picking up a copy of this newspaper, you’re probably a Nationer.

Characteristics of Nationers are wide-ranging, and encompass a variety of different student groups and activities. For example, Wilber finds the Orientation program to be a top producer of Nationers.

“Nationers not only attended, but also actively enjoyed, every informational seminar, group activity and ‘Baby Shark’ sing-a-long,” said Wilber. “Statistics show that 87 percent of Nationers who loved their orientation apply to become OCs themselves.”

I’m no stats guy, but those numbers seem pretty accurate. As a member of the Orientation staff this past August, Nationers make up a vast majority of the staff and a healthy amount of new students. I am forever grateful to the students in my group who didn’t find me clinically insane for teaching them “Flee Fly” on the second morning.

In my experience, the term Nationer has recently become a derogatory term, a University-specific slur directed at those students who seem to love the University just a bit too much. Well I’m here to make a stand for the Nationers. To be clear, I definitely consider myself to be one of these ‘Nationers.’ My activities on campus place me squarely in Nationer territory, and I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is being looked down upon because I love the place that I now consider my second home.

When I came to the University, I came for one thing: basketball. Schools in Maine (my homeland) were never able to offer anything close to a basketball program with Final Four potential. But when I got here, it immediately became clear that if you want to get involved and want to embrace what the University has to offer, you can do it.  It might take a few years, and you might get labeled a Nationer, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.

Nationers are important to the University, because without them, I imagine there would be a whole lot more apathy on this campus. Anti-nationers surely scoff at the students who feel the need to take on so many responsibilities that they do something as horrifying as stay in on a Friday night to catch up on work, but in order for yin to exist, there needs to be a yang, right? And Anti-nationers are insufferable when they start to rip on the University because it’s the cool thing to do. I’d much rather sit next to the freshman girl who raves about Jay Wright’s outfit than the two morons who sat behind me on Saturday night who claimed that Wright was “the worst coach in the NCAA.” Let’s be real, the man is not Coach K, but he is one of the better coaches in the country.

As my college career comes to a close—100 days ‘til graduation has come and gone—I know that when I look back on my four years here, my best memories are going to be Nationer memories. Sure, it’s easy to write off the student groups at the Oreo and the fundraisers in the IK as, as Wilber puts it, “cog in the machine that is Nova Nation.” But give Nationers a chance. We’re not going away. In fact, we’ll be the first ones to sign up for Alumni weekend. And you know what? We can’t wait to come back home.

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