My best friend, mom, dad, grandparents, an aunt, and my great uncles and aunts all went to Penn State.
However, I did not.
I do not bleed Blue and White, I’ve naught but hemoglobin coloring my blood. I never drank the Penn State Kool-Aid. For what it’s worth, I tend to abstain from all sugary beverages. Sure, I root for Penn State teams, but I don’t care if they lose. In fact I actively rooted against Penn State most of my life. Yes, I work at Penn State, but to me it’s nothing more than a decent place to work and a paycheck.
Emotionally, I am as far removed from Penn State as you can be. To me the entire scandal involving Jerry Sandusky (whom I had never heard of prior to this past weekend) is not much different than if there were a child molester working for Google. Or Walmart. Or if it were a different person at Penn State, with a less public legacy. What I do see and can react to is the fallout of the dismissal of Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier.
With the outrage over what Paterno may or may not have known, announced retirement, and now firing, it is as if the soul of Penn State had been shattered. While Paterno legally fulfilled his obligations, morally he fell far short.
Perhaps I can see it from his standpoint:
A student brings to me a serious allegation of a good friend of mine. Not wanting to believe the worst, I report it to my superiors, since that is what I’m supposed to do. When I see nothing come of it, I let it go, assuming the student was mistaken or that the friend has been dealt with.
I don’t know if that is what truly occurred, maybe not. Maybe it will be good for the university in the long run, maybe not. I understand that Paterno is nothing less than the revered uncle or even grandfather of thousands of students, and many more thousands of alumni. From where I’m sitting, all I can see is a set of men get kicked out because they didn’t do all that they could have. It doesn’t affect the quality of the research or education at this institution. It doesn’t change the fact that hundreds of thousands of people still love this university.
I feel no remorse, no nausea, no embarrassment to have Penn State on my resume. I plan to pursue a masters’ degree here once I’m officially hired. I have no doubt in my mind that a Penn State education is as good an education as it was a week ago. Although its ego is bruised and reputation tarnished, Penn State will continue to be a great university.
So now that the Penn State board of trustees have cleaned house, let’s focus on the things that really matter: helping, healing and honoring the victims of Sandusky.