As a Penn State alumnus, I’ve been in a state of shock and disbelief since last Fall’s revelations that one of our coaches was a pedophile who systematically groomed, molested and raped helpless little boys.
As a mother, I feel rage toward a man who cunningly stalked and devoured the innocence, health and future of uncountable children. In my mind, I liken Jerry Sandusky to a vicious timber wolf who patrolled his territory and methodically hunted down defenseless prey, permanently ripping apart their lives in ways that the best of experts can never repair.
Like many, I still cannot come to terms with learning that Joe Paterno, the man who manifested, mentored and championed Penn State in the values of honesty and integrity, was in the end a flawed mortal - like the rest of us.
Yesterday, the NCAA dealt Penn State harsh penalties. Many – including people who never attended Penn State - say the penalties are over-severe and penalize students who had nothing to do with the crimes. Nearly all agree, however, that the university needed to be penalized for allowing the power of a few to lose its human decency and moral values.
One thing all Penn State alumni and current students feel is the shame and bewilderment that permeates us as we try unsuccessfully to comprehend why multiple Penn State leaders found the reputations of a predator and the university to be of higher value than the lives of children.
Yesterday was a whipping day for all Penn Staters everywhere. It wasn’t easy to hear from my daughter how some of her patients berated not only Penn State University but those who have graduated as well as those who currently attend.
The Penn State name is smothered in a black shroud.
So, what do we do? Do we hang our heads in shame for the rest of our lives? Do we wince when we tell others that we are graduates or students of Penn State? Do we feel sick to the core of our beings each time we hear the name of our once esteemed alma mater?
We need to do two things: First, we must remember that the people who lead us can too easily become false idols; the glory that is lavished on them is fleeting. Second, we need to remember that the measure of a man is not that he gets knocked down, but that he picks himself back up.
The Pennsylvania State University will not crumble, it will not be swept away. The mortals who led us made horrific mistakes, but we shall learn from them and, may God help us, we shall never repeat them. By acknowledging and punishing the mistakes, the crimes, we shall become stronger. Let each of us determine to move forward and be the better because of our downfall, not in spite of it.
We were Penn State. We ARE Penn State.
Cynthia Howerter, PSU Class of 1977
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. - Proverbs 14:12.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More
The man who was Penn State is no longer with us. I’m talking about the legendary college football Joe Paterno.
To people outside the Penn State community, he was “the winningest coach in the history of college football” and “a legend.” To people who attended Penn State, Joe was so much more.
Joe Paterno will be remembered not only for his legendary coaching of the Penn State Nittany Lions, but for the many things that he taught everyone who attended and worked at The Pennsylvania State University. Here are 7 favorites:
1. You don’t show up for the game without preparing for it. Actually, Joe knew life existed outside of football and he taught everyone at Penn State that no matter what you do, whether it be sports or academics or a career in any field, you need to be prepared.
2. Attitude. Joe knew it wasn’t about ”me” getting the touchdown. It was all about ”us” working together to win the game.
3. Education is the most important thing. Joe believed this with all his heart. No matter how valuable a player might be, Joe would not let them play if their grade point average slipped below a C. Joe knew that an education can never be taken from a person.
4. Set high standards and achieve them. Anybody can show up on game day. Anybody can show up at work. But not everybody gives their best effort. Joe taught the entire university to show up for life and go at it with everything we’ve got.
5. Humility is more important than bragging. All you had to do was look at the Penn State boys in the “plain wrappers” every Saturday to know that Joe didn’t believe in show. The plain wrappers never sported a player’s name. There were no stripes on the pants. The helmets contained no sleek emblems. No, every year the team wore the same plain blue and white. And we all got it: Joe believed it was more important to do your best than to brag about it.
6. It isn’t how much money you earn, it’s what you do with it. Over the years, Joe earned a lot of money. He could have done anything he wanted with it. Joe meant it when he said that he believed in the value of an education. He and his wife Sue generously donated millions of dollars to the Penn State library, enriching the education of thousands of students for years to come.
7. Never quit. Joe made his teams practice until they got it right. Isn’t that a life lesson for all of us?
WE ARE PENN STATE!
By Cynthia Howerter, Penn State University, Class of 1977
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More
It’s done. Gut-wrenching decisions have been made and implemented.
No matter how we feel - and man, do we feel – the indisputable facts remain. And those facts are what have altered the lives of the Penn State community.
After reading the 23-page Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on the evidence against Jerry Sandusky, it is clear to me that Penn State’s Board of Trustees were backed into a corner this week. The Trustees needed to act, to make decisions.
The Trustees had the presence of mind to realize that they are charged with making decisions that are for the benefit of the entire Pennsylvania State University.
Sometimes decisions like these wreak emotional havoc. But if we put our emotions aside, thoroughly review the Grand Jury’s evidence and look at public statements made this past week by Penn State employees, we will see that Penn State’s Board of Trustees made the only decisions they could.
For over 30 years, a vicious wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing roamed and ravaged Happy Valley. He was cunning, setting up an organization in 1977 that ultimately delivered the food his perverted appetite required; innocent little boys. His selfish desires set the stage for the ruin of a beloved man and the tarnishing of an upstanding university that had never known scandal.
In many people’s minds, Joe Paterno should have pursued the issue when it became clear that Sandusky’s rape of the young boy in the PSU locker room shower was not turned over to the police. By all accounts, Paterno did nothing more than tell his superiors – which is all he was legally required to do.
Therein lies the heart of the issue. Legally, Joe did the proper thing. Morally, he did not. It was looking the other way when a crime was committed and the lack of concern for those who could not protect themselves that caused the downfall of Joe and others at Penn State.
As painful as it is for me to say this, the bottom line is that no one at Penn State showed any concern for the victim. No one. And that speaks loudly.
Joe Paterno, the man who was Penn State, the man who set the exemplary moral standard for every living Penn State student and alumnus, made an incredibly bad judgement that caused suffering and grief for many people including, ultimately, himself, the school to which he devoted his entire adult life, and the victims and their families.
I believe that there is always good that comes from bad. And we simply must find the good in this. Without it, our grief will be endless. In this case, the good must come from the lessons learned.
We need to understand that what we don’t do is as important as what we do. When we see something that is illegal, immoral, improper, we need to take the appropriate action. Silence means approval. Let me say that again: silence means approval.
The issue of silence was ultimately what determined the fate of Joe Paterno, President Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. Silence is what allowed Jerry Sandusky to brutalize innocent young boys who will be deeply scarred until the day they die. Let us not forget that because of silence, these little boys received a gruesome life sentence.
We need to remember the power of silence and its cost to those involved. We need to set aside our deep and powerful emotions at the firing of our beloved Joepa, and remember that silence has the ability to ruin legends.
For the Glory of Old State, For her founders strong and great, For the future that we wait, Raise the song, Raise the song.
When we stood at childhood’s gate, Shapeless in the hands of fate, Thou didst mold us, dear old State, dear Old State, dear Old State.
May no act of ours bring shame, To one heart that loves thy name, May our lives but swell thy fame, dear Old State, dear Old State.
- Penn State Alma Mater
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011
There are questions that must be answered. No more passing the buck. Surely no one is going to look the other way now. Right?
The questions take a natural progression. You don’t have to be a professional investigator to follow the facts and interpret them. All it takes is something as elementary as common sense.
But, for some people, things have a way of complicating the most simple of situations. Say reputations. Or money. Do the math. Add reputation and money together and the sum is Penn State’s reknowned multi-million dollar football program. A program and reputation worth defending unconditionally. At least in the minds of some people.
After graduate assistant Mike McQueary personally observed retired defensive coach Jerry Sandusky having sex with a young boy in the shower at the Penn State locker room, he reported the incident to Coach Joe Paterno. Paterno has stated that McQueary was very upset by what he observed.
Paterno found McQueary’s story credible enough to speak with Penn State’s Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice-President Gary Schultz. But apparently all that came from McQueary’s eyewitness account was that Curley and Schultz told Sandusky that he was no longer permitted to bring young boys to Penn State’s campus.
Did Paterno, Curley or Schultz try to find out the name of the little boy who was raped? Did they try to get him help? Did it occur to Paterno, Curley or Schultz to report the rape – a crime - to the police? If a female Penn State student is raped, the police are called. Does the rape of a 10-year old on campus not count?
How does this situation mesh with Coach Paterno’s well-known intolerance for his football players’ bad behaviors? I wonder if Paterno would have handled things differently had Sandusky raped one of his football players or one of Paterno’s sons in the shower room?
The AP press reported that Penn State President Graham Spanier was called to testify before the Grand Jury investigation. Spanier said that he was aware that Sandusky had been naked in the PSU shower room with a young boy, but they were “just horsing around.”
And that’s all there is to it, folks. Nothing to be upset over. Just a little boy’s life forever marred.
Mr. Spanier! Seriously. Who do you think you are fooling?
President Spanier commented that he “unconditionally supports Curley and Schultz.” Mr. Spanier! Listen to me carefully. It is not normal for adult men to take little boys into the shower, get naked and horse around. Morally upright and educated people would know to call the police and report this type of crime. Do you realize, Mr. Spanier, that as the President of The Pennsylvania State University, you set the example for the rest of Penn State? I say, “Penn State deserves far better. Don’t let the door hit you, Graham.”
I smell a skunk in the woodpile. The very institution that taught and honed my critical thinking skills, apparently did not use them when faced with a crime.
Curley and Schultz were informed of the rape in the PSU locker room. Their response? Well, Mr. Sandusky can’t bring boys on campus anymore. For real? A 10-year old boy was raped. Anal sex. Pushed and held against the shower room wall by a very large man. This is horrific stuff. And all it warranted from Curley and Schultz was to tell Sandusky to keep the little boys off their turf.
Joe Paterno did the minimum – reported the incident to staff and then looked the other way. How many more young lives were permanently scarred because Jerry Sandusky wasn’t held accountable by Paterno, Curley, Schultz and Spanier when this occured?
Graham Spanier thinks there’s nothing unusual about naked adult men being in the Penn State locker room shower with naked little boys during off-hours. And he staunchly supports the two men who chose to protect their school and its football program rather than a young life.
Will someone bring the vomit bag to me because I’m getting sicker by the minute.
Men - if that’s what you are - it’s time to go. Actually, it’s past time. The game’s over.
But one last question remains: is anyone other than myself wondering how it is that McQueary got to be PSU’s wide receivers coach? I don’t know. For some weird reason, the word “pay-off” keeps coming to mind.
“It is bad for those who are wise in their own eyes, and who think they know a lot!” Isaiah 5: 21.
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More
As a Penn State graduate, I never thought I would see the day when one of our own wounds us. I’m referring to the recently released news reports that sexual abuse charges have been brought against former PSU defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. He is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years.
I’ve been heartsick since I heard the news on Friday evening. Jerry Sandusky, a name known to all who love the Blue and White, appears to have found a way to feed a harmful selfish desire that brought suffering to the alledged victims and dishonor to himself and the school that provided him and his family a good living for many years. I AM Penn State, and I feel deeply betrayed.
Through the years as I watched other universities suffer from scandals, I was proud of my alma mater which always managed to keep its nose clean. Weren’t we taught honor at State? Didn’t Coach Joe Paterno, Sandusky’s boss, ooze the very essence of honor? Hasn’t the public always respected Penn State for its code of honor?
The answer to all those questions has always been a resounding yes. Until this past week when news of Sandusky’s alleged predatory behaviors became public knowledge and brought scandal to the steps of Old Main and shock to its students, faculty and alumni.
As a Christian, I know that if Sandusky is a believer and sincerely repents and asks the Lord to forgive him for the alleged behavior, God will forgive.
But Mr. Sandusky, as a human, as a PSU alumnus, as the wife and mother of PSU graduates, I have to say that we members of the Penn State family may not be quite so generous. If the news reports out of Happy Valley are true, you did what no one else has ever done in the long and illustrious history of The Pennsylvania State University: you brought us down.
“Raise a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More