November 17, 2011

Letter to the Editor: What the public hasn’t heard about Penn State

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To the Editor:

Re: “Boycott Penn State Football,” Opinion, Nov. 15

The crimes that were committed at Penn State over the past decade are absolutely reprehensible and I hope all those involved are punished severely.  If it is found that Joe Paterno was in any way involved in covering up those crimes, he must also be punished.  I stand on the side of the victims and if somehow (although I do not see how) ending the football program — a solution the author of Tuesday’s column alluded to — will prevent more kids from getting sexually assaulted I say knock the stadium over now. However, the public’s condemnation of Penn State students (my former classmates, my former teammates and some of my best friends) is worrisome. The fact that an entire university and student body is being attacked because of the actions of less than .1 percent of that university is quite scary, especially when that university and its students do so much good.

The footage of the riot that occurred on Wednesday night at Penn State shows hundreds of students in the streets as a group of approximately 10 flipped a news van. Yet critics of the riots have conveniently ignored the rest of the student body’s near-unanimous disapproval of the vandals via every possible social media outlet. More importantly, what the cameras were unable to capture were the hundreds of students organizing efforts to raise money for the nameless victims and raise awareness regarding child abuse. While that money and their efforts will not reverse the effects of the sexual abuse that the victims suffered, I cannot find a better alternative. The students of Penn State were inarguably put into a horrible situation that they themselves had nothing to do with and, without any semblance of leadership, they came together and attempted to right the wrongs of men who were associated with their school.

The author refers to Penn State students as cultists and “part-time students.” As a former Penn State student, I was infuriated to hear a member of the Cornell community demean an entire university based on the actions of just a few. I assume the author was not at Penn State this past week because his comments show an ignorance of the true atmosphere surrounding the University Park campus. Having been at Penn State last Thursday through Sunday, having talked with students, having participated in a candlelight vigil on a Friday night (rather than getting drunk as the author appears to think is one of the main reasons Penn State exists), I can tell the author that the students did “conjure up immediate remorse” and did a lot more than he and I to help the victims of Jerry Sandusky.

As long as Penn State remains an institution where educators are able to teach and students able to learn (more than 95,000 students each year attend 25 campuses) and as long as the students at Penn State continue to work to do great things (see THON, one of the largest student run philanthropy events in the world –– seriously, look it up) I will remain proud to have been a Penn State student. I ask the author to avoid condemning an entire institution based on the actions of a minority of its members.

Michael Hyland ’12