Sept. 2, 2016

Penn State needs a reality check.

This is not 2011. We need to move on.

Penn State announced on Thursday afternoon that the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno’s first game as Penn State’s head football coach will be commemorated on Sept. 17 when Penn State plays Temple.

That game is the stripe out and is also set to celebrate THON and Community Heroes Day and Faculty & Staff Day.

Paterno has not been a member of this university’s staff since 2011. He is no longer a community hero. Paterno was a remarkable part of this university for numerous years, and for that we have the right to be thankful. For those who attended Penn State while he was here, he has every right to remain a legend. He was a hero, and no one wants to see their hero fall.

But in light of these past years — even these past few weeks — this is in no way the right time or manner to “commemorate” him, if he even deserves to be so.

Currently, the undergraduate students at Penn State do not know what it is like to see the “legendary” coach jog onto the field with our boys in blue and white. We do not have the opportunity to bump into him in Pattee Library and exchange a few kind words.

Currently, the only associations these classes of students have with Paterno is reading and hearing his name tied with Jerry Sandusky's and lawsuits or coming from the mouths of Penn State alumni who can’t accept that their time here is no longer.

This is our Penn State. It is a Penn State without Joe Paterno. It is a Penn State that is still trying to rebuild, make amends and propel forward.

Those of us here now are beyond ready to move on.

Taking the focus off of the Temple game and away from THON, away from the kids and away from current faculty and staff leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Ignoring the proximity of children and Paterno, how can there be a justification about having to share their recognition with a former coach?

For an administration that says it has made progress in moving past everything that came to light in 2011, as much as they might want to put a public relations band-aid on everything and move forward, this seems an odd way of going about it, from any angle.

Penn State is then, now and forever — that isn’t forgotten. This is a university, a family, for more than one age. However, it is bigger than one person, than one incident. Let us not be ignorant of the past, but even more so let us not be insensitive to the future.

We are Penn State.

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Opinions Editor Lauren Davis can be reached by email at lnd5108@psu.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @34_laurendavis.