East College Avenue was lined with bumper-to-bumper traffic as a fresh batch of incoming freshman flocked to Penn State on Sunday morning.
It looked like a typical move-in weekend — there was no sign that two days earlier former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had been found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse about 10 miles away in Bellefonte.
Though they were not on campus when charges were filed and the case first unfolded, it doesn’t mean some of the university’s newest students don’t have strong opinions of the former defensive coordinator and the verdict that was reached Friday night.
“He got what he deserved,” said Emily Dinges, who moved in Sunday morning. “He was a sick man and needed to be locked up.”
Dinges, who is from nearby Bellwood, said she made the decision to come to Penn State before the news of the scandal broke. And even with everything that has happened since early November, she said she was always committed to coming to Penn State.
The scandal cast Penn State in a negative light on a national stage, but many students like Dinges apparently were not affected by the scandal, as application statistics for 2012-13 were up from a year earlier.
In December, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said the university received more than 40,000 applications, a four percent increase from 2011-12, and added that at the time, eight prospective undergraduates withdrew their applications in connection to the scandal.
Gabrielle Vecchione, a freshman from Havertown who also moved in Sunday, said she chose to come to Penn State after the scandal broke. Vecchione said she followed the news at Penn State and trial pretty closely, because she felt like a Penn Stater while she was still in high school.
“Even though I wasn’t actually a student yet, I still had Penn State pride,” she said.
Dinges said she really didn’t hear any adverse comments about her decision to come to Penn State. And Scott, her father, said the only negative thing he heard about his daughter’s choice to come to Penn State wasn’t about the scandal, but rather tuition costs.
However, Vecchione said she did get some unfavorable reactions when she told others she was attending Penn State, but they didn’t matter to her.
“I got some negative feedback from some of my friends’ parents when I told them about my plans to go to Penn State,” said. “People said ‘Oh Sandusky, and I don’t like what Penn State did to Joe Paterno,’ and how it all reflected poorly on the college. But I think ultimately it’s our responsibility to come together as a student body.”