As a Penn State alumnus, I can’t help but feel let down by the actions of a few that have put such a tarnish on the legacy of pride, tradition and honor that is Penn State. I’m not trying to compare my feelings of despondence in any way to the emotional and physical trauma that has been and continues to be experienced by the victims of these unfortunate and unforgivable circumstances. And, of course, those victims remain in my prayers. The maniacal pedophile that is accused of predating on the vulnerable and defenseless deserves what is coming to him. However, I’m willing to let the justice system work before I pass judgement on those accused of perjury and the “cover up”… that’s just my opinion.
I’m writing this for me… and for the other Penn State alumni that, I’m willing to bet, feel similar to how I am feeling. It hurts to see this happening. As a Penn Stater, I invested myself into the idea of something bigger than myself… the idea of success… the honor and traditions of one of the greatest universities in the country. It hurts to know that idea has been tainted. But, I’m attempting to take solace in knowing that those few individuals which have done such public harm to the idea of “Penn State” represent such an insignificant proportion of those that have walked the campus, that hopefully, everyone (especially us alumni) will remember the contributions of the hundreds of thousands of students, professors and faculty, and staff as we struggle to come to grips with what is unfolding.
I’m hoping people will remember that Penn State is the university that received grants from the Department of Agriculture to study crop rotation in an effort to enhance agricultural ecosystems. Penn State is the university that led a team of astronomers in discovering three new planets in a distant solar system light years away. Penn State is the university that was recognized by the NCAA for its higher-than-average graduation rate for student athletes. Penn State is the university that received Department of Energy and National Science Foundation grants to study the design and efficiency of offshore wind turbine farms and the ecological effects of natural gas drilling in shale. Penn State is the university that is researching kidney failure and found a laboratory cure for breast cancer. I’m hoping that we will remember that ALL of those accomplishment happened in the first semester of this academic year. But i doubt anyone will be focusing on that…
And I think I’m starting to realize that we’ve been going about this all wrong. We shouldn’t be dwelling on this having to do with Penn State. Because, we, as Penn Staters, know that what is happening has nothing to do with Penn State. It has everything to do with someone taking advantage of the innocent. We need to separate these few men from the university that has provided for so many. I hope that others can do that, too… because while we come to the defense of our university, we are not coming to the defense of these mongrels. While these acts shouldn’t have happened in the first place, it could have happened anywhere… while in no way is that a justification, I am hoping it can be a tool for us to understand and begin to separate these acts from what we all know Penn State to be. Let’s continue to wear our Penn State pride on our sleeves… because we know that sleeve is probably attached to a well-worn Penn State t-shirt… it’s hard to dig through a Penn Staters closet without hitting something Blue and White. Our university stands for something bigger than what these men have made it seem. We proudly sing the words “may no act of ours bring shame” from our Alma mater every Saturday in Beaver Stadium. We stand for honor. We stand for tradition. We stand for everything these men are not. We stand for Penn State. Because, we are Penn State.