Behind the scenes of “Stuff Northwestern Students Say”

    With more than 17,000 views in five days, the video “Stuff Northwestern Students Say” is rapidly circulating among students and alumni as the next semi-viral video to come out of the school. Following the trend YouTube hit “Shit Girls Say” started in December, the three minute video is a barrage of clipped one-liners like “Diversity of Life just filled up on CAESAR” and “Deering is, like, exactly like Hogwarts.” What most of its viewers don’t know, though, is that the video was produced and released by the university itself.

    Matthew Paolelli, the web content provider for the Department of University Relations, conceived the idea for the video as a way of reaching out to the Northwestern community and appealing to students in a fun way.

    “When all those videos started coming out I thought about doing one for Northwestern, but I never really considered actually making it until I ran it by [Director of Media Relations] Bob Rowley,” said Paolelli (Medill '05). “We realized that there is a lot of Northwestern slang, so [Newsroom Coordinator] Amy Weiss (Medill '09) and I spent one whole day crafting a list of things Northwestern students say — by the end, it was about five pages long.”

    After he and Weiss wrote the script, Paolelli enlisted four students from the Office of University Relations’ work study program to star in the video and offer their own ideas for common sayings heard around campus. One of the students, Communication sophomore Jon Oliver, improvised Northwestern-esque remarks throughout the two-day shooting process.

    “[Paolelli] had a lot of ideas already, but we had a bunch of generic things we all had to come up with ideas for,” Oliver said. “Like, he said we should put in something about SafeRides, so I ended up saying in the video ‘do you think SafeRides will takes us to BK?’ Those kinds of things.”

    Paolelli shot the video with a handheld camera and microphone, and after only a few hours of editing posted it to YouTube late Friday. Since then, he said, he’s been surprised by the video’s positive reception online.

    “We were just trying to put something together that students could relate to, but we’ve seen a lot of reactions from alumni who graduated over the decades,” Paolelli said. “We got comments from some people saying that this is exactly what people were saying at NU 20 years ago.”

    Although the video doesn’t paint Northwestern as a perfect school by any means — it includes vents of frustration like “Why is there always construction?” and “no one dates here” — Paolelli said it helped the school’s reputation among outsiders as well as current students and alumni.

    “Mainly, we just wanted to appeal to people in the community and relate to them,” Paolelli said. “But the main point behind this was to say that Northwestern is a fun place. We have a sense of humor.”


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