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A Message to Students: Do Your Part

Think of the victims first.

That’s the sentiment that comes to my mind — and indeed, many student’s minds — whenever any talk of the scandal comes up. Contrary to popular belief, a statue is not the first thing we think about when we wake up in the morning.

Since November 5th, all we’ve wanted is an opportunity to help. We had candlelight vigils and moments of silence.  We held a “Blue Out” in support of victims of sexual abuse. We’ve had fundraisers and sold wristbands and t-shirts. We, as the Penn State community, will raise money time and time again. That isn’t enough, though, and it never will be.

We cannot make up for the horrible mistakes that occurred to those young children as a result of our leaders. We cannot take back their pain and suffering. We cannot apologize for the actions of one man, and the inaction of many others. What we can do, though, is try our best to prevent this from ever happening again.

First and foremost, we need to stay educated. Stay informed, not just about the scandal, but about signs that a child might be in danger. The unfortunate truth is that sexual abuse happens everywhere, and the signs are often ignored. If you think you know of a child in danger, contact a local police officer immediately. Websites like RAINN.org and PCAR.org can help, because it isn’t always easy to report something of that nature to an authority.

Secondly, we, as Penn State students, need to get more involved with things like Voices For Victims, and the One Promise campaign. We tweet and facebook about THON and Relay For Life on a daily basis. Start doing the same for these kinds of events. Most of the people reading this own a THON wristband. Why not pick up a blue wristband, too, and support victims of sexual abuse. You can purchase them online, and at most stores downtown. Use it as a constant reminder to what those people had to go through, and to instill a voice for them through your own words and actions.

We’ve got to start making proactive changes. The changing of Paternoville to Nittanyville, whether you agree with it or not, was a step forward for students. It showed that we are willing to make such changes. I applaud those who have created fundraisers and organized groups this past school year. What we need to see is that it can’t just be a few students here and there. The number of victims grows on a daily basis, we need to make our population of volunteers grow along with it. We need to make that number stop.

We aren’t just a football school. We are a THON school, a Relay For Life school, a Pink Out, Lift For Life, and Coaches vs. Cancer school.

Let’s become a school that’s known for what we’ve done for victims of sexual abuse.

It is imperative that we give this cause an overwhelming voice. We cannot just try to stop the abuse we might see. We’ve got to spread word across the globe. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of alumni. Reach out to the alumni group of your hometown and organize an event to spread awareness.

If every alumni group is sought out, there is no way that the world will ignore what we’re doing. And if they do, we’ll just scream louder (the world knows we can do that, right?). The voices of the victims need to be heard so that the abuse can be put to an end.

What many have yet to realize is that this scandal will always be a part of our lives. Penn State will always be linked to this scandal, which is certainly a tragedy. But instead of complaining about the constant bombardment of questions and arguments from those on the outside, take your frustration and fuel it to do something for a victim. Write a letter of support, buy a “blue out” t-shirt, volunteer for the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, or help out with a local hotline for reporting abuse.

Whatever you do, though, think of the victims first. It’s time for Penn State to become a leader again.

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About the Author

Maddy Pryor

I'm a 2013 Penn State alum with a B. A. in Public Relations as well as minors in History and Communications Arts and Sciences. I am proudly from Neptune, NJ and talk about it at any opportunity possible. I love college basketball and am a big fan of Penn State Basketball, as well as their official student section, Nittany Nation. I'm a big supporter of Relay For Life of Penn State as well as THON and Coaches vs. Cancer.

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