By now, everyone is well aware of the scandal that has has put a scarlet letter on Penn State University. What was once appropriately known as Happy Valley, an isolated football town in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, has turned into the black eye of the world infested with reporters and unanswered questions.
To an outsider looking in, the Sex Abuse Scandal is just another Headline to debate and converse over. To a Penn Stater, this is the apocalypse.
At this point, their is no reason to argue my opinion on the situation. Discussing the scandal is the equivalent to arguing over religion or politics; pointless. I will however give you some insight as to why the Penn State Community is so distraught.
For those who have been to or attended Penn State, it is hard to deny that State College is a beautiful, happy, and energetic little town. Our world revolves around school pride, football, and THON (the worlds largest student-run philanthropy raising money to fight pediatric cancer). To many, Joe Paterno served as the Grandfather figure, always giving words of advice and encouragement to the student body and inspiring us all to be better people. He was more than just a football coach, he was a philanthropist, an educator, a leader, and of course, a legend. At 84 years old, the thought of him retiring was hard to imagine a reality. In a way, he was immortal.
Our love for Coach Paterno was not because he had 409 wins, it was because he put Penn State on the map. He turned a small "cow college" into a top research institution 45,000 strong. He contributed 10 million dollars towards our library, The Paterno Library, to emphasize the importance of education. He is the reason Penn State is tied with Stanford to have the highest graduation rate amongst student athletes.
But that was then. Within 72 hours, the legacy of Joe Paterno and the integrity of our beloved university was shattered.
There is no way any of us could have prepared for this. How does one manage to be devastated by what this monster, Jerry Sandusky, has allegedly done to these innocent children while watching our entire culture and world tarnish? Of course there is no clear answer, but despite what you may see on TV, the Penn State community has done what it does best: come together and unite as one.
Aside from the riot, which as I like to say was an irrational response to rational anger by only a small percentage of people (majority of which were not even students), students and alumni have been committed to raising awareness to prevent child abuse. The Blue Out against Nebraska and candlelight vigil held at Old Main are just examples of what Penn Staters are capable of. So far, we have raised over $500,000 for RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) and raised over $22,000 for Prevent Child Abuse PA.
I am a PROUD Penn Stater, grateful for my education and the wonderful experiences I have had as a Nittany Lion. I refuse to define my alma mater, a place I call home, by the actions of a few. WE ARE the most top recruited college graduates, according to the Wall Street Journal. WE ARE the students who dance for 46 hours straight raising over 9.5 million dollars for pediatric cancer. WE ARE the university with the largest Alumni Association in the world. WE ARE...PENN STATE.
For more information about THON, visit www.THON.org