The bronze statue of the late former head football coach Joe Paterno is still standing outside of Beaver Stadium, and students and tourists alike are still taking pictures with it.
Since Tuesday night, some supporters have been camping out overnight to protect the statue from harm.
Mike Elliott (senior-economics) and Kevin Berkon (senior-crime, law and justice) decided to form a group of campers and protectors to keep watch of the statue after a threat was made public on a banner trailing off of a plane that circled State College on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We decided last night we were going to visit the Paterno statue because we don’t want anything happening to it,” Berkon said.
A plane flying over campus bearing the words “take down the statue or we will” was the reason the pair decided to go to the statue.
“The plane prompted us to camp out knowing that people want to vandalize,” Elliott said. “We want to prevent violence from happening.”
The turnout of campers on Tuesday night was slim. However, Berkon and Elliott are confident more will join over the next few days.
“Last night, we had three but hopefully we will have more,” Elliott said.
Berkon said the camp outs will continue.
“We are definitely going to be there Thursday night, and we hope to be there on Sunday night but many of us won’t be here this weekend,” Berkon said.
Paterno supporters helped aid the campers on their mission to protect the statue.
“People come by and talk to us, they bring food and water, they believe in us and want to help us stand by the statue,” Elliott said.
On July 12, Judge Louis Freeh’s investigative report into Penn State’s handling of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s abuse of children was released.
In it, it was revealed that Paterno, along with three other university administrators, knew about incidents involving Sandusky acting inappropriately with boys in 1998 and 2001, but they did not do enough to prevent Sandusky from repeating his actions.
Despite that evidence, tourists and students still delight in taking pictures with the statue.
Kelsey Kirsch (junior-human development and family studies) took pictures with her friends next to the Paterno statue, fully decked out in Penn State gear.
“This is my first time here since the memorial,” she said between pictures. “I wanted to get a picture since he’s such a big part of this place. Everything that came out shouldn’t squash what he’s done here at the school.”
There was also a woman who took pictures of her son in his graduation cap and gown, but declined to comment.
As for the students determined to guard the statue, they hope it finds a new home where Paterno supporters can appreciate it.
“Our goal is that we want to show our support for Joe Paterno,” Elliott said. “We would love to see it in the Penn State All-Sports Museum so that people who still support Joe can come to see it.”