This week the atmosphere throughout Pennsylvania State University’s campus has been unfamiliarly eerie in the wake of the recent scandals making national news. Jerry Sandusky, former Nittany Lions’ assistant coach has been charged with 40 criminal counts of serial sex abuse of minors. These accusations have led to charges against other members of the staff, as well as the termination of the university’s president Grahmn Spanier and of Joe Paterno, Penn State’s legendary head coach and leader of major-college all-time wins.
The combination of Penn State’s unusually clean track record and the severity of the unfathomable accusations against Sandusky are what ultimately make this story so baffling.
Earlier today I came across a video posted on USA Today College by Penn State journalism major Haley Blum where she interviewed her fellow classmates on their reactions to the scandal. One response from freshman Amy Easton was especially unfortunate.
“You come here having this whole image of Penn State and Penn State football and ‘Joe Pa,’ and everyone has the shirts that say ‘Joe Pa knows football,’ and for this whole scandal to be going on is kind of disappointing that this is how my first semester is going to end,” she said.
We all remember the feeling of uncertainty, anticipation and impatience that encompassed us before our first semester of college. Regardless of the school we had chosen, we were eager to become a part of something great and had already developed an immense amount of school spirit even before the first day. Incoming students deserve better than this, as do all students. Having such a terrible occurrence go on within an institution that is so well trusted is not fair to any Penn State students or alumni. Students at any college or university are making one of their biggest and earliest investments by attending any particular school. We should be able to take pride in our colors and our traditions because we will most likely stand behind them for the rest of our lives.
One long error in incomprehensible decision-making has brought down the morale of over 40,000 Penn State students and an even larger alumni network, and it is impossible to find fairness in the situation.
Over and over again in our society we bear witness to countless falls from grace of people in high positions making unjust and often appalling decisions, and it is unfortunate that this community has fallen victim to it. There is a professional, moral and ethical obligation that an individual has within their field, and to say that the Penn State administration has dropped the ball would be putting it lightly.
My heart truly goes out to the victims and families within this scandal as well as the prideful, respectable Penn State fans who will soon be transitioning into the rebuilding period of a program that they have always adored. I must say that these fans should continue to be proud of their alma mater, and should also realize that one person’s inexcusable actions do not define their institution and should not allow their school spirit to waver.
Opinion editor Andrea Masenda is a journalism major from Denton, Texas.