Ever since the release of the Freeh report, Happy Valley has seen the climate change from uneasiness to a distinct division that has many people taking sides on Joe Paterno’s legacy. One issue of particular dissent is the Joe Paterno statue — and more specifically, if it should remain an ominous symbol outside Beaver Stadium for hundreds of thousands of fans to pass by on game day.
A plane displaying a banner that said “Take the statue down, or we will” circled State College Wednesday afternoon, and as emotions still run high from the revelations in the Freeh report, many worried that the Paterno statue would be subject to vandalism.
Three Penn State students decided it would be productive for them to set up a tent by the Paterno statue late Tuesday night, with a sign that said “Protect the Paterno statue.” The three refused to reveal their names (although The Collegian named two of the three) because they say they have been receiving a lot of criticism.
“I’ve read the Freeh report, I’ve researched it thoroughly,” one of them said. “It’s all accusations. It’s not truth. What’s happening against JoePa right now is not right.”
One of the other students said, “Freeh has an investigation of his own. How can you trust a man when he’s being investigated in his own coverup? How can he judge Joe?”
There has been some fear that the removal of the statue would result in some sort of Tiananmen Square-like stand-off, where Paterno supporters would physically try to prevent the removal of the statue. According to the students standing guard, the purpose of them setting up camp is not to prevent the removal of the statue, but rather to prevent anyone outside of Penn State from altering or vandalizing its likeness. “We want to make sure what happens to the statue is all from the University. We don’t want to have people come out here and try to vandalize it or try to tear it down,” one of the three said.
The group has already been approached by Universty Police, who gave them permission to hang out as long as they didn’t sleep there. “If people come here and try and start things or promote violence, they said to give them a call,” one of the three said. “We want to make this peaceful. We’re just supporting JoePa.”
One of the three also expressed his dissatisfaction with Paternoville’s decision to change its name to Nittanyville yesterday, and said he will no longer camp out for football games. “I am extremely disappointed that they changed the name,” he said “It was all accusations against Paterno. The truth has not yet come out. They just did what the public wanted them to do. I can’t respect that. I can’t respect Nittanyville anymore.”
The group, well stocked with Redbull, plans to remain at the statue until at least Friday, take a break for the weekend, and resume the following Monday. “I’m standing up for something I believe in,” one of the members said.
Continually, the three students said that the truth has yet to come out regarding Paterno. However, they believe that the Paterno’s personal investigation will prove to be a better depiction of the facts than what the Freeh report released. “I’m waiting on the Paterno’s investigation, I think they’ll do a much more thorough job than what Freeh did. It’s a waiting game,” one member said.
So, basically we have three Penn State students who plan to sit at the Paterno statue without sleeping for days at a time, and won’t believe anything until the Paterno family releases their own investigative findings into, well, Paterno.
Who said you’re too old for the circus?