I’m not a Penn State grad. I’m not even really a fan. I do, however, live in Penn State Country. Every fall I have to endure the loud, bold and annoying cheer of 100,000 fans booming in unison , “WE ARE….PENN STATE.”
Aside from the facts that I bleed Navy Blue and Gold, and my son (and money) graduated from in-state rival University of Pittsburgh, I have developed a high level of respect for Penn State in the 25 years I have lived in Central Pennsylvania. More specifically, I have a very high level of respect for many friends and colleagues who are Penn State graduates. There is a good reason they are Penn State Proud.
I know this is absolutely heart-wrenching for them.
I read the 23 page Grand Jury Presentment. I was not prepared for the graphic and lurid detail in which the disgusting pattern of abuse was outlined. It is deeply disturbing. The subsequent events and emotions that have unfolded publicly over the past week, I have found, are both misguided and misunderstood.
Accountability: This is the word that was drilled into my head from the first hour on my first day of Plebe Summer in Annapolis. This is the first word that came to mind as I read the Sunday Newspaper. Inherent in any secular leadership position is the balance of authority, responsibility, and accountability. If a ship has a collision at sea, it is the Captain who is solely accountable. The Captain has to go. In this case, as I read the Grand Jury’s report, The University President had to go. The legendary coach had to go.
I don’t like the way the Board of Trustees fired the coach (by phone); but I also don’t like the way the coach, earlier in the day, announced he would retire at season’s end, and that “the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status.”
Tit for tat.
I don’t like the report of the 28 year old graduate assistant, who upon seeing a 10 year old boy being raped, did not step in to stop it. According to the Grand Jury Presentment, the graduate assistant was “distraught” and left the rapist with his victim. From his office he then called his own father, who advised him to leave the building.
Silence is the voice of complicity; particularly when a child is being raped.
I don’t like the way a very small percentage of students (1-2%) dominated media coverage by flipping over a TV truck and inviting police to employ pepper spray to contain the violence. Both the demonstrators and media coverage gave the impression that losing a football coach was more important to the Penn State student population than the welfare of at least 8 boys who had been sexually assaulted.
I know that is absolutely not true.
This weekend, The Pennsylvania State University will have its opportunity to show the world what it means to be Penn State Proud. In the first step of what may likely be a long, slow journey back to prominence, Penn State supporters will have the opportunity to show a unified public display of unmitigated support for victims of sexual abuse. All fans are being encouraged to wear blue clothing – a “Blue Out”. This is the Penn State I want to know. I hope it’s an overwhelming success. I hope the cheers in Beaver Stadium will be as loud and bold as they ever have been. I may not necessarily be a Penn State fan; but I hope, from my chair in Mechanicsburg this Saturday, I can hear that beautiful cheer from Beaver stadium, “WE ARE…. PENN STATE”.