As I watched ESPN’s Outside the Lines this afternoon, the question arose as to “What is Penn State now?”
This seemed like a very clear answer to me, since Penn State hasn’t changed — at least not for the worse since Nov. 4, 2011, the day Jerry Sandusky was charged with child sex abuse.
Since then, I have been able to see the student body come together in three different vigils, all being student-led. The first came in the wake of the media extravaganza on the night before the Nebraska game. On a chilly November night, we as students declared we were going to stand up for these victims. That is Penn State.
The next day, we stood proud wearing blue to show support to the victims, that we care about you. We bowed our heads in prayer as over a hundred men knelt on the 50-yard line from different teams, sharing in our pain for these children. That is Penn State. Then again on a crisp January night, we gathered again and paid our respects to a man who so willingly strived to make this university a better place. That is Penn State.
What most amazes me, is despite all of the controversy of this year, despite losing a canning weekend due to weather, we as students were able to shatter the $10 million-dollar mark for THON and help conquer childhood cancer. That is Penn State. In no way am I downplaying the actions or inactions of the officials at this university. They were people of power who made very poor judgment, but we cannot forget the good they have done for us individually and as a community.
I am grateful I can study into the wee hours of the night because of Joe Paterno’s generosity. I am grateful to know the Curley family and that Mr. Curley hired my dad, without him I wouldn’t be attending such a fine institution. I am grateful Graham Spanier helped spearhead the Presidential Leadership Academy I was so fortunate to be accepted into this past spring.
These men made mistakes, and they deserve to be reprimanded. But it should be clear they were just men, despite the God-like power they were given. We as a student body need to accept they were in the wrong, learn to forgive, and begin the healing process this community so desperately needs. That is Penn State.