Happy Valley is No Longer Happy: A Penn State Alum Speaks Out

Image taken by Eric Weiss

Disgust.

I can not think of another word to describe the constant gut-wrenching feeling I have had in the pit of my stomach since Saturday morning when the alleged sexual assault case involving former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky became national news.

First, and foremost, I am disgusted that my university — a place that I spent the best four years of my life learning and growing and maturing into the person I am today — would let this one man ruin the reputation we have worked so hard to build. Members of our administration were informed of Sandusky’s actions that occurred NINE years years ago (and on OUR CAMPUS no less) and felt the proper course of action was to cover this up. And then when confronted, they continue to do something; to say nothing. Not even to apologize to the victims and their families that had the strength to come forward after all of these years of abuse and turmoil. Pure and utter disgust.

I have continued to be disgusted by the national media who has made this about Joe Paterno (a man has not even been formally charged with anything and followed protocol according to the Pennsylvania attorney general). Instead of asking for the resignations of our Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the Senior Vice President of Finance and Business and the overseer of the University Police (who are both charged with perjury and failure to report), they went for the sensationalism. Go after the octogenarian who has spent the last 46 seasons building and rebuilding Penn State football, who has placed such an emphasis on academics in State College that the library is named after him, who has been a leader, a role model for athletes and students alike. Do I believe Joe could have done more? Yes, absolutely. The man has even admitted this himself. We all knew that even Paterno could not survive this scandal unscathed. But do I believe he earned a better ending to his career than being fired OVER THE PHONE by the Board of Trustees? You bet your ass I do. And that disgusts me.

I am even more disgusted with the hundreds of current Penn State students who used last night as a way to misrepresent the entire study body and alumni association. Instead of every present news outlet focusing on the respectful, somber demonstrations at the Paterno statue near Beaver Stadium or the football players gathering together at the Lasch building or the candelight vigils being held for the victims of Sandusky’s abuse, I was watching CNN broadcast students flipping over a local news van and tear down lamp posts on a street I was proud to call my home for two years. You continued to embarrass the Penn State name. May no act of ours bring shame? You brought not only shame; you brought me disgust.

It will be a long time before Penn State recovers from this scandal. There will be even more firing and resigning as new facts continue to unfold and further action is taken to ensure everyone involved in this scandal is removed from our University. This is not an easy path and these are some of our darkest hours. But I know my university and I know we will not let the actions of a few men define the phrase “We Are… Penn State.” This feeling of disgust will pass. We will continue to remind the world that we are bigger than this. We will continue to remind people to focus on the victims and we will never let something of this nature happen on our campus ever again. We will continue to bleed blue and white.

Fight On, State.

Ariel Abramowitz is a recent graduate of the Penn State College of Communications, as well as a former writer for OnwardState.com. She has some very strong opinions but they are all her own. Feel free to let her know what you think by commenting or tweeting her @arielsam924.

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