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May No Act of Ours Bring Shame, To One Heart that Loves thy Name

Lion Shrine in SnowMay No Act of Ours Bring Shame, To One Heart that Loves thy Name

Over and over again, Penn Staters have quoted this lyric from the Alma Mater in response to the fallout from the Sandusky scandal. For most of us, belting out this lyric when it comes up in the song has been an act of defiance — a way of proudly declaring to the rest of the world that we are Penn State, and Penn State is not Jerry Sandusky.

Unfortunately, the last six months or so have given this lyric an entirely new meaning. And while it would be absurd to compare these new offenses to the events of the scandal, they hurt almost as much because they come from where you’d least expect them to: within the Penn State community.

Make no mistake about it: Regardless of what any given student thinks about Joe Paterno, the Board of Trustees, or the musical stylings of Neil Diamond, he or she probably loves Penn State. In a strange way, the fact that so many students are willing to engage in debates with alumni only furthers the argument that we are proud of Penn State. Driven by this love for the university, many student leaders are simply trying to abide by Coach Paterno’s famous words and make Penn State a better place.

Alumni might disagree with our views on how to go about this, but they should realize that at the core of our beliefs, the students essentially want the same thing that they do. Like plenty of alumni, most of us spent days or even weeks in a helpless daze as things spiraled out of control for our beloved university two years ago. I have no qualms about speaking for my fellow students when I say that we never, ever want to see something like that happen again at Penn State.

The fact that both students and alumni are so passionate about Penn State only proves the tremendous impact that the university has had on all of our lives. In the end, we all want what’s best for the future of Penn State. That might mean reforming groups like the Board of Trustees, certain offices in Old Main, or certain policies and procedures. It might mean reforming a lot of other things too, and frankly, I’m not smart enough to know what all those things are. However, let’s do a quick recap of this week and examine some interesting events. Despite my limited “real world” experience, I’ll do my best to determine whether or not they truly made Penn State a better place:

  • One student member of Onward State is told by a March for Truth supporter to “Go **** yourself.” In the following days, another member of Onward State is harassed by numerous accounts on Twitter, calling her a liar for reporting that marchers were using profanity. One steps way over the line, going as far as to say she looks like she has Down Syndrome. Verdict: Penn State not a better place.
  • Homecoming Grand Marshal John Amaechi, former Nittany Lion star center with numerous professional accolades and extensive charity work, receives several hateful messages containing homophobic and racial slurs. These are presumably in response to Amaechi’s comments made almost two years ago about Joe Paterno’s handling of events in the Sandusky scandal. President Rodney Erickson has already backed out of the parade due to similar hate messages. Verdict: Penn State is still not a better place.
  • UPUA President Katelyn Mullen and two other student leaders confront March for Truth, voicing concerns on behalf of students. Mullen is told, among other things, that she does not truly represent the 40,000 students at University Park. Online comments on a Collegian editorial suggest that the trustees told her to speak out against the march. Oh, and another comment compared the Sandusky scandal to 9/11, so…yeah. Not sure what to say about that. Verdict: Penn State still not a better place. From any of this.

Many alumni claim to have been wanting the “truth” for almost two years now, so here’s the cold, hard truth about what I just described: It’s immature, it’s not helping anything, and it has to stop. I just listed three examples from the last week of absolutely disgraceful actions that reflect horribly on this university.

There’s simply no need for this ongoing Penn State Civil War, and it wastes a lot of energy from both sides that could have been better directed towards improving this university. Is it really worth sacrificing ideals like honor, respect and community – ideals that we value deeply as Penn Staters – in a crazed search for the truth? If you want to scratch and claw your way to the truth behind the events of the last 15 years, then the students probably can’t stop you. If you want to pick off the trustees one by one, then younger alumni might be voting against you, but it’s an election and your candidate might win anyway. But if you’re going to treat students and others with different views for the university like crap, then for all I care, you might as well go sit with those maize-clad folks at the Homecoming game. You sure aren’t sitting anywhere near me.

When I sway back and forth with the students as I sing that line in the Alma Mater, I’ll be thinking of you and shaking my head.

Photo by: Eric H. Weiss

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