Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Penn State situation (from a Penn Stater)

This is one of those situations where I had to go and get a good Canadian beer (Sleeman's, from Guelph, ON) in order to be able and sit down and write this.  Walking the fine line between supporting Penn State and yet denouncing the horrible crimes committed in my town has been emotionally exhausting, chiefly because the actions of the PSU administration have made me so upset that sometimes I wonder why I even bother.  Every day I go through a range of emotions, such as "shocked, sickened, angered, disgusted, embarrassed, and saddened beyond belief," to quote my alumni association email.

Here's how it is with me and Penn State.  When I moved to State College, PA in 2005, I never dreamed it would become more of a home to me than any of the previous places I had lived.  In fact, the whole football thing seemed kind of weird, as did the hero worship of Joe Paterno.  But while there, I began to build a life, meet my best friends, and obtain a doctorate.  State College got into me, and tailgating was fun, and so were whiteout games, and so was that blasted "WE ARE..... PENN STATE!!" cheer (I always said that was a dumb cheer, because who else would we be?  It catches on, though).

I miss State College and my friends like nothing else.  That's why it saddens me so much to see my town and my campus in turmoil.  To think that something so terrible could have happened in State College sickens me, and yes, I have read the entire grand jury report and kept up with multiple news sources.  The Paterno firing is also an interesting issue, and perhaps one about which those outside of State College (i.e. 99.9% of the news media) have very little insight, because they simply don't know the history.  Paterno and the Board have been butting heads for years.  It seems very convenient to get rid of him and Spanier (the president) and let them take the fall.... yet what about the others that knew?  Gary Schultz and Larry Curley are still employed by the University, and their legal fees are even being paid by the University.  I find this hypocrisy distasteful, but there's a deeper feeling.  It's unnerving.  It's unsettling.  It feels like we're at the tip of the iceberg, and we're going to find out more very soon.  We're at the proverbial abyss, looking down and not liking it.  But we should face it.  The sooner we face it, the sooner that we and the victims can start healing.

I wish with an aching heart that I could have gone to that candlelight vigil for the victims last night.  Penn State's beauty really came out then, and of course, the media doesn't want to focus on it at all.  Ten thousand people in front of Old Main brought tears to my eyes, especially this clip taken by member of the Daily Collegian, the student paper.  In it, the Alma Mater is being sung, and they focus on the most applicable part: "May no act of ours bring shame/To one heart that loves thy name."

I miss Penn State.  I love Penn State.  We are not "Pedo State" or any of those cutesy little names that have cropped up by those who know nothing about the school other than the controversy and want to capitalize on a sore moment.  The terrible acts of a few will not overshadow the good that Penn State does.  We are Penn State.  And we are sorry.

-KBC, Ph.D. Chemistry, Penn State, 2011

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