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Board of Trustees’ Response Appalling

Last night around midnight, the Penn State Board of Trustees broke a days-long silence and released a statement about the allegations of sex abuse against Jerry Sandusky. Their response is so pitiful and repulsive, and demonstrates no ability and competency of leadership at the highest levels of the University, that I’m going to post the full text here so you can see the full ineptitude of the University leadership that has plagued Penn State throughout this crisis.

The Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University is outraged by the horrifying details contained in the Grand Jury Report. As parents, alumni and members of the Penn State Community, our hearts go out to all of those impacted by these terrible events, especially the tragedies involving children and their families. We cannot begin to express the combination of sorrow and anger that we feel about the allegations surrounding Jerry Sandusky. We hear those of you who feel betrayed and we want to assure all of you that the Board will take swift, decisive action.

At its regular meeting on Friday, November 11, 2011, the Board will appoint a Special Committee, members of which are currently being identified, to undertake a full and complete investigation of the circumstances that gave rise to the Grand Jury Report.   This Special Committee will be commissioned to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to insure that this never happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully accountable. The Special Committee will have whatever resources are necessary to thoroughly fulfill its charge, including independent counsel and investigative teams, and there will be no restrictions placed on its scope or activities. Upon the completion of this investigation, a complete report will be presented at a future public session of the Board of Trustees.

Penn State has always strived for honesty, integrity and the highest moral standards in all of its programs. We will not tolerate any violation of these principles. We educate over 95,000 students every year and we take this responsibility very seriously. We are dedicated to protecting those who are placed in our care. We promise you that we are committed to restoring public trust in the University.

As masses of students were gathering in the streets of State College and in front of Old Main, a sign of a campus thrown into chaos over the past couple days due to a complete absence of direction and leadership (on anyone’s part), this garbage is what the Board of Trustees comes up with?

All it is is a ploy to stall for time. “We’re going to look into it,” was an unacceptable response. This is the same strategy used by Congress this summer after their inaction (sound familiar?) brought the country to the brink of financial ruin. They came out in the eleventh hour and told us they’d put their best people on it…eventually.

The Board hasn’t even formed this committee yet. And since when is the 23-page grand jury presentment that has graphic detail throughout not good enough for them? Do the Trustees think it’s bogus? There’s no way an internal investigation could be at all impartial; the Board of Trustees has proved throughout that they’re only interested in looking out for their own interests and not doing the right thing morally, the issue over which this whole fiasco has ballooned. Trust in Penn State, especially to Spanier and the administration, has eroded to virtually nothing; how can we trust and expect them to reach a better, more just decision than the grand jury has that’s been meeting over the course of nine years? It’s insulting that they’d so haphazardly discard years of work done by a grand jury and automatically demand our trust for anything, let alone for taking care of an issue this magnanimous.

And the other thing is, though we know the Board has been meeting periodically over the past six days, they insist on not taking any more action, or meeting (with our knowledge) until their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, that was scheduled before the academic year began, before any of these horrific allegations came to light. The Board can’t be bothered to act on anyone’s terms but its own; the message says, “We’ll take care of this, but not until we decide to meet.” Where’s the dedication to morality, to the truth, and therefore to the integrity of the University? Where’s the “we will not rest until justice is served”?

The Board of Trustees has betrayed us all, and in an apparent effort to save the image of Penn State, has only tarnished it further. They’re only interested in saving themselves.

About the Author

Dan McCool

Dan is a senior and has been writing for Onward State since January 2010. Did you miss him? Nah, neither did we. He's returning after a semester abroad in England and will be serving as Arts Editor. Favorite things in life include references to The Big Lebowski.

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