For better or worse, Penn State is football. It is also basketball. And women’s volleyball. Men’s wrestling. Ice Hockey. Women’s basketball. Gymnastics. Zeta Psi. Sigma Alpha Mu. Beta Theta Pi. Phi Gamma Alpha. Alpha Phi. Delta Gamma. Sigma Kappa. Kappa Sigma and 81 other fraternities and sororities. Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils. Snyder Hall. Shunk Hall. Packer Hall. Wolf Hall. Lyons Hall. Hamilton Hall. Atherton Hall. Findlay Commons. Johnston Commons. Pollock Commons. Waring Commons. Lion Ambassadors. Dance Marathon. Schreyer Honors College. The University Park Undergraduate Association.
All of these things were built at Penn State from the ground up beginning with its establishment in 1855. There are 38,594 undergraduate students at the University Park campus who have nothing to do with the scandal that is defaming a remarkable public institution. There are over a half-million members of the world’s largest dues paying alumni association that had nothing to do with this atrocity. There are educators, researchers, professors, senators, national secretaries of commerce, secretaries of defense, decorated military officers, mayors, district attorneys, professional athletes, Bruce Banner, and Hillary Clinton’s father and brother. None of whom played any role in this botch job.
Penn State is and remains all of those things. An institution that provided me with an education that is considered to be among the top fifteen public universities in the United States of America will forever remain to me a pristine place for learning academically, personally, and socially. Lapses in judgement by those in trusted leadership positions will not change what Penn State means to me or any of the other half-million dues paying alumni association members. Penn State will continue to be a place that helped mold me into who I am today, a place where I learned how to learn, a place where I learned how to apply myself to achieve my goals, and a place where I learned to question those around me in order to find what’s right. Penn State and its fantastic and award winning faculty assisted in propelling me to where I sit right now. I applied to one University. There was only one I ever wanted to attend and there isn’t one from which I could be more proud to hold a diploma.
As Michael Weinreb eloquently wrote at Grantland, “I don’t think I realized how emotionally attached I was until this occurred.” I don’t think any Penn Stater quite realized their devotion and emotional attachment to a large plot of land covered with buildings situated in a valley in State College, Pennsylvania. None of the outrage that is being expressed is centered around football; far more is at stake amidst this scandal—a University’s integrity, prestige, and trajectory could be permanently altered by the shocking developments of the last five days. That is not to even mention the most obviously affected individuals—the victims at the center of this horrible mess.
When we look back on this ten or fifteen years from now I hope that we can remember those victims, but I also hope that we’re able to realize what a fantastic institution Penn State University really is, and are able to analyze and take pride in the steps that are being taken to provide reparation to both those affected and the reputation of a truly marvelous University.
As the opening lines of the Penn State Alma Mater go:
For the glory of Old State,
for her founders strong and great,
for the future that we wait,
Raise the Song, Raise the Song.
A scandal is not Penn State. The actions of cowards are not Penn State.
We are … Penn State