I have been mulling over in my head over and over and over again what I was going to say about this all week. I have been reading so many articles, blog posts, Facebook statuses and tweets. I feel I have as many of the facts as I can about the situation and I know I don’t have everything.
I am sickened and disgusted by Sandusky. I am appalled that he created an organization to essentially recruit young boys for his own sadistic wants. I am angry that Mike McQueary called his father and went to Joe Paterno instead of calling the police. I am angry that Joe Paterno didn’t do more to follow up after he reported it to Curley. I’m angry that Curley didn’t take more immediate action. I’m angry that Schultz and Spanier didn’t follow through on the investigation. I’m pissed at the media who are taking the riot that occurred Thursday night and painting all Penn State students as ignorant, drunk oafs who only care about football. I am heartbroken about how my friends and family are feeling about what has happened to the alma mater that they hold so dear.
As a student affairs professional, I follow a lot of blogs and social media and news outlets that are covering the “Penn State Scandal”, as it has been dubbed, that are painting a broad brush. I don’t know one Penn State alum who supports sexual assault, or one who cares more about the football coach than the victims, or who thinks that athletics is more important than education. That is not the Penn State that I know. I am empathizing with the students affairs staff on PSU’s main campus as they deal with emotional students who are grieving for the community that was turned upside down last weekend.
I am not saying that Penn State is perfect. Out of the 40,000 students on campus, it is easy to assume that some of them came to Penn State because it was a great football school. The administration didn’t follow through on a lot of things. Their town and buildings take an enormous amount of wear and tear from drunken students and fans. But I also know that I am a small, private, liberal arts professional to the core and would be completely overwhelmed on that campus as a professional or even as a student.
I posted a link on Facebook today that a professor from Wesleyan had posted in the Chronicle connecting the dots between the scandal and sexual assault on college campuses. She was not kind to Penn State, but made it clear that the problem of sexual assault on college campuses is very real and very much about power and control. It is horrifying that it was personified in a man who rapes young boys. It elicited a strong reaction from one of my close friends from high school, who has been so angry and hurt about what is happening to her alma mater. I wanted to reach through the screen and hug her. Instead, I posted this to her:
Cor, I know…this article is one of many, many, many that I have been reading. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I know that the media has sensationalized and torn to shreds the alma mater and home of so many of my friends and family. I know that Sandusky, Spanier, Schultz and everyone else who was involved in this are not you and not your university. It angers me that that the media is taking comments made by students in grief and anger and made them represent your university. It bothers me that there are people in my profession and field who are lambasting your students for lack of civility when I just saw a tweet that 10,000 students are expected to show up for a candelight vigil for the victims in place of a pep rally. The article above just demonstrates that the problem of sexual assault on college campuses is everywhere…and that power and control is,whether large or small, what permeates the problem. I have honestly stayed relatively quiet about the entire situation because I care about YOU and my cousins who are so terribly hurt by this entire situation. Sandusky and the rest did more than damage the lives of the victims, they damaged the heart and soul of an organization that people I care deeply about care about. And you’re right…I would be devastated if something like this happened at Dickinson or at an institution where I had once been part of the community. I love you and the rest of the Penn Staters in my life and I would do anything in the world to take that pain away.
Let me tell you what I am proud about in Penn State. I am proud of my friends and family standing up for their alma mater and saying that this scandal doesn’t define them. I am proud that there are reports that up to 10,000 students will participate in a candlelight vigil for the victims in place of a pep rally. I am proud that everyone who is attending the Penn State game tomorrow has been asked to wear blue in support of the victims. I am proud of the students standing arm in arm in front of the Old Main administration building in support of the victims. I am proud of the faculty who have thrown away lectures to sit with their classes and discuss what is happening to their campus. I am proud of Matt, Mike, Jim, Kristine, Corrie, Angie, Anthony, Jayne, Katie, Jared, Dustin, Tyler, Uncle Tom and the many others I know that they are still WE ARE…
I am a Dickinsonian to the core, but I’m proud to be a Penn Stater by association.