Friday, November 11, 2011

More than a few words on the scandal from a Pennsylvania local and PSU alumna...

The Penn State University scandal has had the Happy Valley in an uproar more than possibly anything I have ever seen locally as a Pennsylvanian…and it very well should.  The firing of Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno literally started riots in the streets in downtown State College.  (Lets face it, people were rioting because of Joe Paterno; no one seemed to care about Spanier, and I think that says a lot.)   Maybe, though, Penn State students and alumni should have been gathering and passionate enough to riot, but not because we are in an uproar that they ousted our dear old JoePA, but because this scandal points out how the politics within our dear alma mater are so incredibly horrible and lacking in integrity that they allowed the 15 year cover up of a child molestation scandal!  I would like to just say for the record I think that the board did the right thing by firing Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno and I for one, as a Penn State alumna support this decision.  It was a good first step; it was their/our only choice. 

This situation has marred this institution and is, needless to say, disgusting and appalling!  This matter should be handled with serious reprimands.  I don’t care if JoePA didn’t do it himself; he let it happen if he didn’t report it to the authorities.  Anyone connected to a cover up of this magnitude should be removed from the Penn State payroll and that is really getting off easy if you ask me.  I can understand the love that we have for JoePA as Penn Staters.  He is a local icon!  But Penn State needs to “hang them in the town square” in a manner of speaking to make an example of them in order to save some of its horribly mutilated face at this point!  This was wrong!  Not because JoePA can’t finish his last season, but because he aided in the cover up of a child abuse scandal.  By not firing Joe Paterno, Penn State would be telling the world that their football program is more important to them than protecting children from sexual predators or remaining a serious academic entity by maintaining a sense of integrity within the institution!  Our children are our future and in turn will become the future of Penn State!! 

I may not be a huge football fan, but I am a proud Pennsylvania born and raised Penn State University alumna.  I grew up within 40 minutes of the Happy Valley, and like so many, I am, for the first time, embarrassed for us.  I am also embarrassed by how student rioters knocked over the WTAJ 10 News van and caused problems for locals and local businesses, protesting the firing of Joe Paterno!  Students need to remember to not get caught up in rioting merely for the sake of rioting.  Remember, this isn’t about football; it’s about morality.  Do you really want to be the school that values football over protecting children?  Let JoePA go.  Let him “take one for the team” this time.  He needs to be “sacrificed” in this way in order to make an example of this horrible situation and show the world that We are STILL Penn State!  We aren’t just football.  We are a group of people filled with purpose and united with pride.  Penn State has brought this area so much, providing tons of people with jobs and opportunities and instilling an incredible sense of local pride.  It has enriched the area and given it a long lasting identity to be proud of!  Let’s continue to support our state college by cleaning house!  This has been a long time coming and there is more to be exposed with this investigation.  Let’s support our alma mater in striving to become an institution we can be proud of once again by letting this happen!  

Support the Penn State team, because the players are the ones that get out on that field and play, not Joe Paterno.  They are the ones that have won those games and earned those titles.  Joe Paterno simply served as their coach and icon.  We need to learn to truly feel and understand our motto.  We are…Penn State.   WE….are Penn State.  We need to learn that WE ARE Penn State…NOT the icons we came to be represented by.  We create our success in life, not the people we hold up on pedestals.  Support the team as you would support the troops in war even if you don’t happen to agree with the choices of the government.  Stay Penn State proud, but let’s take it back!  Let this show that people who make bad choices, even if they are generally loved and admired, have to suffer the consequences for their actions, or inaction.  Don’t we, as parents, strive to teach this to our children with every single lesson?  Isn’t pretty much every lesson you teach a child based on consequence?  Every choice has a consequence.  What we need to think about is the fact that JoePA is not just a local icon, but a nationally famous symbol for our team and school just like the Nittany Lion.  People, who are idolized by so many, children included, should do something if they know a child is being raped or hurt in any way!  Morally, they have an obligation to.  JoePA did indeed do his part as a coach and reported it to his higher ups, but he didn’t do his part morally as a citizen, as a Penn Stater, to protect those children by reporting it to the authorities.  

As usual, the most overlooked aspect of this situation is the victims.   This is a shameful story to surface, but it is good that it did!  I hope now that all of the victims are able to come forward and possibly find some solace and I hope that Penn State will step up and help to provide this for them in any way they are able to.  It is well within their means.  Students, like it or not, our tuition partially pays/paid for the salaries of the people that were covering up this child molestation scandal.  Hell, some of it possibly even went toward hush money and business meetings and lunches that were held in order to discuss how best to cover up and hide this scandal.  This is serious.  There are over 40 counts against Sandusky and there are 8 known victims thus far.  I too love my school, but if you are rioting in the streets and flipping over vans in anger protesting the reprimand of the people involved in this cover up, you are making it difficult if not impossible for these victims to feel safe enough to come out in order to shed some light on this criminal investigation and receive the proper treatment and help that they need!

Remember that you represent Penn State to the world and you should do so with pride.  By rioting in the streets of your college town, you are also telling the world that you value our football program more than protecting children from sexual predators and exposing the truth!  Football…over integrity.  I know that we are known for our football, but to me, that is not what Penn State is about!  We are a strong institution with many valuable members and programs and we will come back from this by handling the situation how it should have been handled in the first place, with a sense of dignity by doing the honorable and proper thing. 

Jerry Sandusky is the sole person truly “responsible” for this.  No one else should be to “blame” for the acts done to these children, but those who remained silent should be held accountable for not doing something to stop it.  JoePA is not “responsible” for this; he just has to pay for making the choice to do nothing.  Support your team.  Still support Joe Paterno if you want.  He still has made a name for Penn State with the football program.  I do sympathize with Paterno to an extent, but he could have been a hero and instead did only what was required by his position, not what was his moral obligation to do as a citizen and icon.  He had his 46 years and will still go down in history.  The fans had highlights, moments, memories, and he had his games and his wins and his seasons; this will all go down in history.  Those kids, however, are going to have emotional scars for the rest of their lives and you, Mr. Paterno, with all of your iconic power, could have possibly done something to stop it.  That is why you were fired.  You did a good job, but because of your silence, I think you should sit this one out, JoePa.   

I, on the other hand, have no sympathy for Graham Spanier et al, and feel that he deserves most of the wrath from Penn State as well as the others that knew and did nothing.  Sandusky deserves the wrath of the law and hopefully will be convicted and punished for all of his crimes.  In order for this to happen, though, we, as PENN STATERS need to act civilly and let this happen.  I urge you, as a fellow PSU graduate, as a fellow former student, as a fellow Pennsylvania local, as a fellow human being, do not protest or riot or get in the way of this investigation in any way!  Let this criminal investigation take place!  Let the victims come forward and receive help.  Let Sandusky pay for his horrible actions.  Respect the decisions the college board of trustees is making and let Penn State pride continue by “cleaning house” as they suggest.  Joe Paterno still had 31 great years coaching PSU football that did not overlap with this cover up!  Think of it as a loved one who is consumed by cancer later in life; you try to remember them how they were before the illness overtook them.  Think of JoePA as the icon you love, and see his termination as a sacrifice to what is right in this horrible situation for everyone involved, including the college that he loved and represented for so many years.
We still are…Penn State! 

1 comment:

  1. If Paterno had retired at 65-70, his reputation would be untarnished.

    I find a certain satisfaction in this turn of events, because I grew up in Pennsylvania and was inept at sports, especially at sports having any element of brutality.

    I earn my living as a white collar employee in a hierarchy: a few people below me, a lot more above me. If I see something amiss, I am obliged to report it to my immediate superior.
    I do have the option of going to a higher level. As a citizen, I have the right to notify the police of anything that disturbs me, but I strongly suspect that my doing so would not be well regarded. It is not my place to evolve outsiders in the affairs of my employer. Doing so reduces the options available to my organisation's Powers that Be.

    Some years ago, my department invited a foreign scholar to visit us for 2-3 months. The fellow was a known sexual harasser. While he had beaten the charge in court, he resigned anyway, after having been suspended for about 4 years. A fair bit of information pertaining to his case was on the web.

    Believing that this invitation was a moral and public relations disaster for my department and employer, I explained this matter to my work unit's gender equity coordinator, who happily took up the matter with an executive vice president. She told me that her meeting was civil, but she completely failed to convince him that the invitation put our reputation at risk.

    I would never have dared raising this issue myself, because I am not confident that my identity would be protected. Nobody would dare get vindictive with the gender equity coordinator because she is a middle aged woman, and works in a different department from us.

    I suspect that if Paterno had called the police himself, he would have had to retire within 18 months because he would be deemed to have broken and unwritten and unspoken rule: only the athletic director, provost, or President involve the police in something that takes place on campus. Joe did not want to retire, even though he was over 70, because he wanted to set all sorts of career records.