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President Barron Preaches Community Responsibility Ahead Of Football Season

Penn State President Eric Barron released a letter to the university community Monday night encouraging students, alumni, and community members alike to act responsibly as the Nittany Lions’ football season gets set to begin.

In his statement, Barron touted both Penn State and the Big Ten’s safety-first planning but noted it’s up to fans to ensure the season can continue safely this fall.

“We understand the excitement that the football season brings, and we know that many people long for the sense of normalcy that watching our team from the stands would create,” Barron wrote. “However, in this pandemic year, our responsibility to our community calls us to come together – virtually – with a focus on safety first.”

Barron reiterated Penn State will fill the stadiums with only student-athletes, coaches, and select family members, leaving general spectators out of the picture. He added doing so will reduce “the high risks associated with large gatherings” and potential coronavirus spread.

He added the university won’t permit tailgating of any kind during the season. Penn State plans to close its parking lots and prevent congregations of fans and students around campus.

Barron also reiterated both State College and Penn State police will enforce the borough’s coronavirus mitigation ordinance. Violations are met with civil citations and $300 fines.

“It is especially important that everyone clearly understands that our efforts to achieve a downward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases in the region could be jeopardized if there is an influx – even a small influx – of visitors to town,” Barron said. “We love our Nittany Lion fans – and we want to keep them healthy and safe until experts determine there is a time when we can again come together without fear of contracting what is for some a deadly virus.”

Barron said the Penn State community will soon hear from local businesses, community leaders, and both university and health officials about the importance of protecting the community, perhaps through a social media campaign. He lauded the university’s “Our Community. Our Responsibility.” motto and encouraged people to take it seriously this fall.

Although fans are understandably bummed to not be #107KStrong in Beaver Stadium this fall, Barron encouraged them to cheer on the Nittany Lions using a litany of virtual methods. These online options, including Penn State Athletics’ “Virtual Valley Experience” and “Raise The Song” campaign, encourage fans to cheer the team on from home.

Fans are also able to purchase cardboard cutouts of themselves to be placed in Beaver Stadium. Each purchase benefits THON and some Penn State equity and inclusion funds and scholarships.

Barron once again floated the idea of an outdoor, socially distanced watch party for students, just like Provost Nick Jones did in a town hall last weekend. He said Penn State’s Office of Student Affairs is working to host one for the Nittany Lions’ Halloween matchup against Ohio State, but more details need to be worked out before plans are set in stone.

“For students across our campuses, the best way to help us have a successful season is to remain in your campus communities, watch with your roommates, and not travel to other areas,” Barron said.

To close his statement, Barron implored students, fans, and alumni to live up to the Penn State tradition by keeping each other safe this fall.

“This football season, as unusual and unfamiliar as it may be, promises to again be one in which our Nittany Lions show the nation the amazing talent, character and skills of our student-athletes and coaches,” Barron said. “It also will be a time to show the nation and the world that we value and uphold our responsibility for the health and safety of one another. Not just those in our Nittany Nation, but also those beyond campus borders as we reduce travel and avoid large gatherings for the benefit of all.

“This is our opportunity to remind everyone why we are and always will be Penn State proud – together or apart.”

Penn State football will begin its season with a road matchup against Indiana at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 24. The game will be broadcast live on FS1.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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