Friday, November 11, 2011

Walking Into the Lion's Den

Right now, there are a whole lot of people out there, many of them with absolutely no other affiliation with the university than what happens on Saturdays in the fall, who seem to feel they know what's best for Pennsylvania State University. "Blow up" the school, they say. Cancel tomorrow's game. Make everyone pay.

To that I ask, what good would any of that do? Contrary to what many ignorant people seem to believe, 99.999999999999999999999999 percent of Penn State students, alumni, administrators, faculty and staff knew absolutely nothing about the horror that was taking place, and 100 percent of those people are as outraged and upset and embarrassed — and I can go on and on with the emotions — as everyone else. To paint the entirety of the university as culpable is irresponsible and unfair. And again, I ask, what good does it do?

Moving forward, the goal should be to make the necessary changes in leadership and in the culture around Penn State, not to destroy a university that has helped generations do good — just as every university in the world has. Dismantling and punishing the hundreds of thousands of people associated with the university who had absolutely nothing to do with this scandal is the equivalent of telling everyone to run and hide.

We as a university must face this head on, not put our heads in the sand. We must learn from it, not run from it. We must do everything in our power to create change and make the campus and the world a safer and better place. Scores of people affiliated with Penn State are already doing that. Scores more will.

No matter how high-profile, how visible, how powerful certain individuals may be, no one man — no five men — make up an institution. Penn State is made up 46,000-plus students, hundreds of faculty and staff, and hundreds of thousands of alumni. We are the majority of the university, and the majority wants nothing more than to do its best to help in whatever small way we can to right the terrible wrongs people in our family have committed.

Running and hiding isn't the answer. Punishing an innocent majority isn't the answer. That does no one any good. And more than ever, this community and this world as a whole needs more good. Evil was among out midst, and negligence that harbored that evil. It's now our job, the countless Penn Staters who are outraged by the entire situation, to remove that evil and regain the ideals the university was built on.

I'm going to the Penn State-Nebraska game tomorrow. I'm walking right into the lion's den. Sure, I have reservations, and I'd be lying if I said I'm enthused to go. But I, and thousands of others, will show up not to show solidarity for one individual or another, but to show the world we aren't hiding. We're here to face this matter head on.

I have no doubt there will be things I see and hear that will make me shameful. There already has been. I'm also sure there will be displays of humanity that give me hope and perhaps even help me regain a little bit of that pride that was so quickly and suddenly snatched away.

It's a tragedy, a sickening ordeal. If you think by trying to go on, trying to build a reputation back up, trying to do right by the people who make up this tarnished university and trying to do some good out of all this bad somehow comes across as being in favor of these disheartening, disgusting, unforgivable acts, then feel free. I choose not to look at that way, because I don't see the good in that.

And now more than ever, Penn State and the entire world could use some good.

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