On Penn State

Recap: a few months back, word got out that a member of Penn State coaching staff Sandusky had raped numerous 10-year-old boys during his time there. One of these rapes was walked in on by a grad student, who told Penn State’s Lord and Savior Joe Paterno, who did legally everything he should have by going to his own bosses, who in turn ignored it and have since been charged with perjury and fired. The consensus outside of Penn State seems to be that Paterno was morally obligated to do more. Personally, I have a hard time believing that the subject was only discussed once and Paterno was like, “Oh, nothing has been done to that guy? Hmm. Oh well.” When the scandal broke, Penn State officials probably figured they needed to save face and clean house and even though Paterno had decided to retire, officials fired him.

Penn State students, in an astounding display of a lack of morals, intelligence, and maturity, rioted in State College, going so far as to flip a van. Because a football coach was fired. Not because said coach was indirectly involved in a child-sex scandal but because they fired him.

Shortly after, it was revealed that Paterno had lung cancer and he died over the weekend and those genius kids are it at again.

First, free tickets were available for the public viewing and may were promptly listed on eBay for thousands of dollars. Now Penn State students are choosing to once deify Paterno.

I wholeheartedly believe that the dead do deserve respect, even the worst of them. A life has still been lost, and people did love that person and are mourning. That does go for a student body, too. He was a huge part of that school and did a hell of a lot for it, and that should by no means be forgotten, nor will it be. But the reality is that he unfortunately played a role in the scandal, and that is a blemish on his legacy. Penn State isn’t mourning right now–they’re practically worshipping.

No one that I’ve seen so far is saying anything like, “It was a bad situation, but as we mourn, let’s focus on the happy times.” That would be understandable and fair. Instead, everything that has happened is being ignored–except, of course, for when someone (usually outside of that community) calls them out and says, “Hold on, this isn’t quite right.” That’s when the magnitude of the pretension at Penn State truly shows itself.

After several months of dating Paul, I realize that Penn State is a terribly overrated place. I’ve heard plenty of stories of professors who don’t seem to even care that they have students. They’re bad teachers. They don’t bother to listen to their students’ concerns. They take long trips in the middle of the semester. They’re there for the name and the research. Classes are too big. As a result, the students aren’t getting the wonderful education they were promised. They’re being cheated, yet many of them still need to use drugs to focus and get through the day.

As a lady with an English degree, I understand and accept that I am going to be judged by basically everyone around me. I spent four years being told I wasn’t going to find a job, and I still feel like I get little to no support from my friends with my writing (aside from Paul, Meri is a huge exception–she bought a copy of nearly every paper I had an article in, bless her heart). I always thought that Paul belonged in English and would’ve been happier there, and he was always supportive and awesome about my choice of major/career. Until he started spending a lot of time with his fellow engineering classmates.

Gradually, he became subtly condescending. After some tears, long conversations, and the ultimatum of, “I’m not staying with a man who looks down on me or puts me down,” we settled it. The bottom line is that he was falling into a mindset he’d heard repeatedly from his peers, and he hasn’t said a single negative thing since. He also does an excellent job of fixing his mistakes but that’s another post.

This kind of mindset is rampant there, and I’ve seen it from nearly every person I know up there, especially ones that use Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t just apply to majors, either–many Penn State students have this mindset that they are better than others by virtue of their school, when their school keeps proving its not that great anyway. At the moment, this is manifesting itself in the mentality that they are the only school with any pride.

A lot of the statements being made right now basically say that no one understands, no one knows their pain, etc. Banding together in a loss is one thing, but this is being taken to an extreme that assumes Penn State is the one exception to everything, and its ridiculous.

This needs to stop. Penn State students need to step back and think about the way they’re representing their school right now and how this looks to the victims of the abuse, especially. They are once again sending the message that those kids don’t matter–football does.


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