In a couple years we’ll be alumni, driving back to State College for football Saturdays.
Before kickoff, we’ll stand with the other 100,000-plus Nittany Lion faithful at Beaver Stadium and sing our alma mater. We’ll recite the lyrics, which are about respect, integrity and success with honor — the foundations Penn State prides itself on.
But I can’t help but wonder what those words will mean in two years, or beyond.
I can’t help but fear that everything we once proudly believed is now tainted because of one man’s alleged disgustingly reprehensible actions and others apparently concealing the crimes for fear it would tarnish the university’s brand. And these men were supposed to be leaders, true blue and white.
So in a couple years, we will sing the song, but perhaps with a dual meaning.
For the glory of old state...
For the school that has supposedly valued integrity off the field over success on the field. For the school which proudly promotes that it has never committed a major NCAA violation, has one of the highest student-athlete graduation rates in the nation and the No. 1 student section in the country.
For her founders strong and great...
For the legends that built this school and the leaders that maintained it. For those decision-makers who thought it was more important to preserve an unblemished reputation than do the right thing and find justice for a victim.
For the future that we wait...
For the weight that our degrees hold based off of the connotations — good or bad — that go along with Penn State University.
And then we’ll get to the line, “May no act of ours bring shame...” and I’ll pause.
Because no matter what happens from here, no matter what allegations prove to be true or false, no matter who resigns or who steps forward, Penn State’s name will forever be tarnished.
There will be no dual meanings here, just one image flashing through my mind: The image of a stomach-turning 23-page grand jury report.
In there are graphic descriptions of how former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky — revered enough that he was once considered Joe Paterno’s likely successor — abused his power and sexually abused eight boys over a 15 year period.
In there are allegations that two, high-ranking Penn State officials — Athletic Director Tim Curley and Interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Shultz — heard about Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in a team locker room shower. But Curley and Shultz didn’t alert state or county officials.
What did they do instead? Allegedly, Curley simply told Sandusky he wasn’t allowed to bring children on campus any more.
So it’s OK to break the law as long as it’s not on Penn State’s watch and not in a facility decorated with the prestigious Nittany Lion emblem? What exactly is that message?
For the Glory...
We scoffed last summer when Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was forced to step down amid NCAA violations regarding a tattoo-parlor scandal. Could never happen here, we thought. Would never happen under Joe Paterno.
We condemn Southern Methodist University for having the most allegations and violations in NCAA history. We’ve never had one major violation. Penn State would never allow players to receive under the table payments.
Well, it’s been 24 seasons since the NCAA imposed the “death penalty” on SMU and canceled their 1987 season. But even today, Southern Methodist University is synonymous with scandal.
These type of things don’t go away quickly — if ever.
It’s going to take one heck of a PR campaign, more than a few heartfelt apologies and maybe a couple resignations for everything to be OK again at Penn State. Even then, it may never be the same.
But all I know is two, maybe more years from now, the alma mater will sound a lot different than it did in the beginning of this season.
May our lives but swell thy fame. Dear old State, dear old State.
Emily Kaplan is a junior majoring in print journalism and is The Daily Collegian’s Tuesday columnist. Email her at email@example.com.