For the Future that We Wait: Attend Student Forum
Sitting at a window seat along Pollock Road this morning, the normalcy of the situation strikes me. The flow of students to and from class is no different than the majority of school days I’ve witnessed in my first three years here in Happy Valley. The scene strikes me because normal Penn State is not.
When news of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged inhumanity broke and we realized the role that Penn State’s leaders had (or didn’t have) in the proceedings, those of us who had sacrificed a bit of our identity for the institution’s felt that part of ourselves erupt in agony. As Acting Athletic Director Dave Joyner put it, we have been mourning for all that was lost. As students, we recognize the sense of loss, pain, and devastation that we feel first and foremost for the victims, but also for the greater Penn State community.
I sit here in the HUB and watch students live the rituals of student life. Their calm strikes me because, at the same time, our world continues to morph around us. We face a national media serving national demands, when we have local needs. A new generation of leaders is rising up to maintain its position of national prominence when many people would prefer just the opposite. Where once were boasts of our attractiveness to corporate recruiters now lie anxieties about whether our graduates will be able to score a job with Penn State on their degree.
Sara Ganim spoke at a College of Communications event last night. This will be a 25-year story, she said. Penn State will make it through this, we all know that deep down, but as a proud student I have to say that these circumstances leave me feeling far from at ease about our future. If ever a case against the status quo could be made, it is now.
For the next 25 years, this story will define Penn State for the public at large. Though we cannot repair the damages Sandusky has left on the victims of his sexual abuse, we can do everything in our power as Penn Staters to ensure that it is a history we face square-on. There can never again be another tragedy like this here or anywhere else, but that is a future we must create.
President Erickson has committed to five promises for moving Penn State forward. In the past few weeks, I believe I have received more emails from him on these goals than I received from former President Spanier throughout the preceding three years. President Erickson has made a promise to Penn State and the nation, and we as an institution are undoubtedly united in the value of keeping them all.
Tonight President Erickson and seven other of Penn State’s highest ranking administrators will appear in front of an entirely student audience to answer questions in a conversation moderated by rockstar professors Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey. Tickets for the event are free and the conversation has no pre-set boundaries, no questions from journalists. This is a night for students and administrators to talk about what happened and how Penn State moves forward from here. This is a night for us to discuss the future that we wait.
I sat down in the HUB because I was discouraged. When I went to the ticket desk to show my Penn State id+ card and get a seat for this evening’s event, the student worker told me that less than 200 had been distributed so far. That’s 200 students out of tens of thousands here, at University Park, eligible to attend. An unprecedented moment of openness for the university, an event designed specifically for us, and what strikes me most about today is that it has been so far marked by its sheer normalcy. We lost a big part of what it meant to be a Penn Stater this month, and it’s going to be our job as current students and young graduates to push Penn State towards the future that we wait. We can’t do that unless we’re at the table to begin with. For the future that we wait, attend tonight’s student town hall forum in the HUB.
Tickets for tonight’s event will be available at the HUB Information Desk through 6:00 p.m. All you need is your student ID. Tweet us at @OnwardState if you have any questions and, for those of you who can’t make it in person, the event will be streamed live on UStream and broadcast by PCN. Check back here for details and follow the Twitter conversation using the hashtag #PSUTownHall.