I'm told the same thing every time someone finds out I'm from Penn State… "Wow, rough couple of months, eh?"
What an understatement that is.
Penn State is a lifestyle. It is a feeling that you get when you step foot on the campus or walk through town on a Friday in the fall. It's the incredible academic atmosphere that thousands of students have come to learn under for decades. It is the feeling you get as a freshman, opening the door to your first ever college class. It is the fun you have on a weekend with friends that you will have for a lifetime. It is the undeniable sense of sorrow and emotion that overcomes you and thousands of others as you listen to a stage full of cancer survivors at the annual THON fundraiser. It is a pride that fills each and every student and alumnus' heart. That is what Penn State is.
Penn State is not a football program. Penn State is not Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, Graham Spanier, and certainly not Jerry Sandusky. The events of the past few weeks, predominantly the release of the Freeh report, have made every Penn Stater cringe. It's made me embarrassed and ashamed. And as an alumnus of Penn State, I would like to remind everyone of a few things.
It was not the thousands of men and women who graduated with baccalaureate, masters, and doctorates from Penn State that did this. We have gone on to do remarkable things for our school and our country, and we cannot be associated with, or compared to, any of these despicable characters that we have learned so much about over the past few weeks.
For those out there who call for tearing down the Paterno statue, for the dismantling of our football program, and for a University wide apology, remember this… We, alumni and students, feel disgusted by all as well. We probably feel much like many of you about this. But for years, this is not what we knew; this was not what we were told to believe of our school. "Success with honor," is Penn State's motto. This has come as a devastating shock to us all, and while it may be seen as hesitation on our part to tear down a statue, or dismantle a football program, these are things that we have come to associate our entire lives with.
Remember it was not the students or alumni that did this, the athletes or the football team, and they, we should not be punished for it. Our shame is enough of a punishment. And I only hope that this school's remarkable reputation as a leading academic institution can be restored in short order.