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