It’s Time to Re-Evaluate Penn State’s Image

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We probably won’t be ranked in football next year, but at least we can flaunt our “Top Party Schools” and “Least Rigorous Schools” rankings proudly, amiright??

Yeah, how about not.

We aren’t exactly media darlings right now, and if the Internet comment section lynch mobs are any indication, there are a lot of people out there just waiting for another excuse to lambast “Dear Old State.” What we really don’t need is two more negative portrayals of our university in the form of “#2 Party School” and “#22 Least Rigorous School.”

Look, we’ve made our living marketing Penn State as a “football school” and unofficially as a “party school.” You may not have a Penn State shot glass, but it’s certain you own some sort of Penn State football apparel. And if you didn’t know anything about Penn State, I’d bet the first two things that came to mind when you heard “Nittany Lion” would be along the lines of “tailgating” and “Joe Paterno.”

I guess it’s really not surprising to me that the media is so quick to dismiss the Sandusky scandal as nothing more than a “football culture” problem. After all, what really goes on in Happy Valley besides black out ragers and halfback dives on third-and-long?

If you really believe that last sentence, you need to take a closer look.

As a proud Penn Stater, this is my cue to start listing the many, many things that I admire about our university. Consider a few of these honors that might better represent Penn State as an institution:

Throw rankings aside, and we can still look at Penn State’s valuable contributions to society. Look back to the earlier history of our university and you’ll come across notable individuals like Julius and Philip Epstein, who wrote the screenplay for the iconic American film Casablanca. Look at our earlier research and you’ll see that Penn State was where the Simons Process was discovered, a breakthrough that helped give rise to organofluorine chemistry and even the Nuclear age.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and Penn State is still doing great things. Our researchers are making advances in areas from cancer treatment to renewable energy. Our fellow students are involved in everything from entrepreneurial endeavors to THON. And on the international scale, 19 Penn Staters are competing at the Olympics while others helped land the Curiosity rover on Mars.

So here’s my plea to the Penn State community: We have a legacy of academic excellence and international relevance to protect.

I’m proud of our football team. Hell, I’m proud of the fact that we can enjoy a vibrant social environment in addition to academic success.  But we’re much, much more than just a football school and a party school. I think this is the time for us to reevaluate our public persona.

We are Penn State. Now, let’s make sure We WILL be Penn State — now more than ever.

Photo By: Evan Ponter
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Writer and photographer, helping tell the many stories of the Penn State community.

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