We’ve known for months now that most of the student population will be back here in State College for Arts Fest weekend. What some people are just finding out, though, is that the Freeh investigative report is being released Thursday morning at 9 am. At 100 or more pages, it might take a while to read, but it definitely won’t take long for everybody to react.
Traffic will be steady on the Freeh report website all day. Twitter and Facebook will blow up, and Penn State will probably be a trending topic for most of the day. The “Breaking News” tape will run across the bottom of your TV screens, no matter what channel you’re watching. And if the early signs have any substance, the Freeh Report won’t look good for our Dear Old State.
There will be plenty of reporters, analysts, and arm chair bickerers talking about every little detail, whether they’ve got their facts completely straight or not. We’ve learned throughout the past year or so that people will always jump to conclusions, but we can’t let that affect us, the students, the way it has in the past. This time around, we need to be responsible. This time we can’t ride on emotions or act out of compulsion.
We cannot let whatever information that is inside this report change what it has always meant to be a Penn Stater. In November, a few thousand rowdy students decided the national fate of the entire student population. We all know how unnecessary the November riot was, and what it did to Penn State’s perception in the media. It showed hundreds of irresponsible, outraged, and irrational students seeking some sort of revenge against something they could not change.
As a Penn State student, I’ve personally witnessed two “riots.” The first was last spring on the night of the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Students took to the streets in celebration and satisfaction. It was the Sunday night before finals week began (also, the same night as the Mifflin Streak), so most students had been studying, and the rally/riot was peaceful for the most part. I’m constantly thankful that this hadn’t happened on a regular Saturday night, because it would not have ended well, but there was just a small fire and things were cleared up by the morning.
Then there was the November riot following the firing of Joe Paterno. Honestly, it was the scariest moment of my years here at Penn State. Obviously it was not the best idea to release the information at 10 pm, and I’m actually glad the Freeh report will be released early in the morning, but there is no reason to become violent like the students did that night.
We cannot change what will be found in the Freeh report. What we can change, however, is how we are viewed as students of The Pennsylvania State University. Yes, the timing sucks, but that doesn’t have to matter.
Do yourself, your classmates, the alumni, and our town a favor. When you come up for Arts Fest and hear about the report, don’t take to the streets in anger. A riot would do harm to so many, whether you may realize it or not. We’re always preaching the words of our Alma Mater, “May no act of ours bring shame.” Keep those words in mind this weekend as you’re visiting Happy Valley because, once again, we’re being faced with something a lot bigger than ourselves.