Group wants hall named for Colbert


The dining hall underneath the Litchfield Towers will be getting a new name, and more than… The dining hall underneath the Litchfield Towers will be getting a new name, and more than 1,000 students want to name it after Stephen Colbert.

In response to a recent call from the University to help in naming the new facility, a group has sprung up on the online community Facebook, calling to have the eatery named after the Comedy Central television personality.

Richard Rosenow, the group’s creator, could not be reached for comment. But on the group’s introductory “Wall,” or message board, he wrote: “I think the Stephen Colbert Dining Facility” has a nice ring to it.

This group’s independent effort to name the facility after Colbert mirrors a Colbert-sponsored effort to name a bridge in Hungary after himself. The eastern European nation had set up an online vote in which the bridge would be named after the winner – Colbert won with more than 17 million votes and also won a second, more restrictive round of voting with a little less than 100,000.

The bridge was not, however, named after him.

Renata Luczak, a director at Comedy Central, said Stephen Colbert’s popularity is no joke. According to Luczak, his show, “The Colbert Report,” attracts more male viewers ages 18 to 24 than all late-night shows except for “The Daily Show” and “The Late Show with Jay Leno.”

The submission process was on the dining services Web site, and students were asked to input their name and other information along with their entry. However, the process ended yesterday.

A panel will then choose the winning entry, and that student will receive a Playstation 2 game system and accessories. The number of submissions for a particular name does have a direct influence on the name the panel chooses. The name for the “Cup and Chaucer” facility in the Hillman Library was chosen in the same fashion.

According to Ph.D. candidate Damien Pfister, Colbert’s popularity is tied in many ways to the Internet, because the clips on his show are the perfect size for eventual upload. Popular segments such as “The Word” and “Threat Down” usually last for 3 to 5 minutes.

Pfister, who has researched the Internet as a form of mass communication, said in an e-mail that Colbert’s on-air persona has attracted a lot of attention and subsequent action – especially from young people.

“First, I think a lot of this is just correlation – college students are the core demographics for “The Colbert Report” and just happen to have unmonitored Internet access for long stretches of time.”

The fact that students are using Facebook as a means for organization is not a novel idea to Pfister. He said that recently Internet-based campaigns such as the Million Mom March and – as well as Howard Dean’s bid for the presidential nomination – have demonstrated the effective and cheap way the Internet can organize people.

“Unsurprisingly, college students have picked up on the benefits of this type of political action,” Pfister said in an e-mail.

Colbert’s following has only grown since his show began more than a year ago and several of his on-air requests have translated into real-world antics.

In one show, Colbert asked his viewers to save the African elephant by logging on to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and changing the entry to say that the population of the elephant had tripled in the last few years. This prompted Wikipedia to restrict access to that entry and to modify the encyclopedia’s famous peer-review system.

The new dining facility will feature a larger, more open space throughout the bottom of the Litchfield Towers. Among the new eateries included in the plans is a Taco Bell Express.