Wanted: Questions for Our Live, Online Conversation

September 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm 29 comments

Over the summer, I got a chance to ask questions of Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey ’94g, the husband-and-wife sociology instructors who have made it a point to address the Sandusky scandal and its aftermath in class. Their SOC 119 class, Race and Ethnic Relations, is all about exploring assumptions and considering a variety of perspectives, and they brought that sensibility to the interview we published in our September/October issue. (If you missed it, click here for a downloadable PDF.)

Now it’s your turn to ask questions.

Sam and Laurie will be facilitating a discussion from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, and you can participate in the event at this website: livestream.com/pennstater. We want you to be a part of “Emerging from the Storm: Continuing the Conversation.” You’ll be able to watch Sam and Laurie at the website, and you can ask questions, make comments and chat with other participants simply by typing into the text box in the upper right-hand corner. You don’t need to register or do anything fancy. You can also log in there with your Facebook or Twitter accounts, if you’d prefer. Our hashtag: #pennstater.

I’ll be in the room with Sam and Laurie, asking your questions and summarizing your comments. I’m there as your representative, so I need your questions and ideas.

If you’d like to get the conversation started early, you can post in the comments here or on Facebook; I’ll make sure Sam and Laurie see what you write.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

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Entry filed under: Alumni Association, Campus issues, Controversy, Liberal Arts, The Penn Stater magazine. Tags: , .

A San Francisco Visit “Justifying the Roar,” Even at 0-2

29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Deb Mynar  |  September 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Lori, thanks to you and everyone involved for this opportunity. I would appreciate hearing some advice on two areas…

    1. How to cope with the conflict between moving forward and reconciling a past full of unanswered questions. Yes, we can find positive ways to help and that is somewhat healing, but being part of the Penn State family is a significant part of my personal identity. That identity translates – at least for me – to belief that I have a responsibility to act, yet I feel powerless to work toward justice or to effect authentic change or to make a real difference. Even though I know that I am not alone, I still feel overwhelmingly helpless – like I am watching my childhood home burn to the ground over the course of months. Every time I start to think that things can’t possibly get worse, they do.

    2. How to reconcile the gap that I perceive between the expectations for me as a Penn State student and alumna – for scholarship, integrity, respect, excellence, leadership, critical thought, community contribution – with the actions and reactions of University administrators since November 2011 (at minimum).

  • 2. Lori Shontz  |  September 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks so much, Deb! I’ll be sure to pose this to Sam and Laurie.

  • 3. Amy Hegel  |  September 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Having read the Freeh report, I have to wonder how the BoT ever allowed the NCAA to use this as a basis for the sanctions against PSU. In regards to the sanctions, Erickson claims a four year death penalty was threatened, and Emmert (and others on the NCAA board) fully deny that. Why are two different stories being told? And why is someone lying?

  • 4. Nancy Tyson Koebel  |  September 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    While it was clear the guilty party in the sex abuse trial spent years fooling people in the university community about his real intent with some of the youth from the Second Mile, how can we convince administrators and trustees that the real problem lie with those who were charged with protecting at-risk youth and who instead let some of those youth be violated? How can we convince the media, community, and national audience Jerry Sandusky did these acts under the noses of children’s services, social workers at the Second Mile (and other agencies), and state officials? The situation the university seems to feel responsible for has lots of others who had more to do with Sandusky’s abuse than Penn State did.

  • 5. marcetherr  |  September 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    The Richards/Mulvey article in the Penn Stater was very thoughtful, but it ignored the elephant in the room. Many Penn Staters – alumni in particular – have no confidence in the Board of Trustees.This was proven by a recent survey of alumni. At best the Trustees are seen as incompetent and at worst they are perceived as putting their own personal interests above the interests of the university (ie commissioning the Freeh report, which as been used to bludgeon Penn State, with the aim of justifying their own ill-conceived actions of November 2011) .

    Several of the Trustees have been quoted saying condescending things about alumni, and Ms. Peetz herself was quoted as saying that alumni only care about football. As an alumna who is NOT a football fan I found that deeply offensive.Trustee comments that fueled the notion that Penn State had a “culture” that would willingly cover up for a pedophile were completely unforgivable. The “storm” referenced in the Penn Stater article is at least partly of the Trustees’ making.

    In view of the complete (and justified) lack of trust in the Board of Trustees by the alumni–major benefactors of Penn State–how can the university hope to “emerge from the storm?” Can the university really afford to turn its back on the alumni? Should it?

  • 6. Wendy Silverwood  |  September 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I’d like to echo my outrage about the Second Mile and their role in all of this. The Board has assumed all of the guilt for all of these crimes against children, yet without any information to date from the failings of the State Licensed & Audited Children’s Charity that Sandusky found his victims from.

    Why is there such a disconnect here? Why is the Board, the public & the Media so willing to make this a Football Culture problem, when in fact our Commonwealth had a duty to these kids. Where are the questions & the investigations?

    It’s been 10 months and here we sit, still no closer to the truth on how a State Licensed & Audited Entity, along with Licensed & Trained Professionals in private practice, at Second Mile, at Centre & Clinton Counties CYS, at PA DPW, in Law Enforcement & at the PA OAG allowed a pedophile to hide in plain sight.

    Why is no one concerned? Abuse of kids will continue to lurk below the surface unless we understand how the very system we had in place failed.

  • 7. Barry Bozeman  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    The DPW and DA’s office concluded after a lengthy inquiry that NO CRIMINAL or Sexually Inappropriate behavior occurred in the 1998 incident. This inquiry, BY LAW, was kept confidential.

    Freeh makes the unfounded claim that Joe Paterno and PSU President and AD knew the details of the inquiry and were somehow at fault for not punishing or restricting Jerry Sandusky in 1998. Again, BY LAW, they could not know details of the inquiry that concluded no Criminal or Sexual act had occurred.
    See KEY FINDINGS in 1998 http://notpsu.blogspot.com/2012/08/each-freeh-key-finding-is-misleading.html

    HOW can Freeh or the NCAA hold Joe responsible for 1998? By law he could not know and if he did DPW and the DA already ruled
    Read this PROFESSIONAL ANALYSIS
    http://notpsu.blogspot.com/2012/09/analysis-freeh-1998-key-findings-no.html

  • 8. Patti Aiello Hunter  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    How are we to “go forward” with our football culture “problem”? Do we graduate less athletes? Do we stop putting such emphasis on education? I am at a loss to what we could possibly do to ‘fix” the “problem”. Do we just keep wearing blue ribbons and apologizing for something we had no part in? I would sincerely like to know how you feel this “line” can be accomplished since we already are an institution that has highly valued those same “culture problems” Thank you

  • 9. Alice Pope  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    In the radio broadcast of the Trustees meeting in August, we were informed that although the NCAA didn’t think Penn State had actually broken any of their rules, they were appalled at our culture that valued athletics over academics. I am at a loss to understand how anyone paying attention can think we have a culture problem of this sort, given the high standards expected for, and met by, Penn State’s student athletes over many decades. Do you think Penn State has a culture problem?

  • 10. Alice Pope  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    What advice do you have for alumni and others who are concerned about many actions of the Board of Trustees surrounding these events, when most of the Trustees are completely ignoring our concerns? “Normal” routes for expressing concern seem to be going nowhere — we are told that many Trustees delete our e-mails and discard our letters without reading them. If we escalate the polarization heightens.

  • 11. Mary Cooper  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    What will be the ramifications of a guilty vs a innocent verdict for Penn State in the upcoming SchultzCurley trial? AND, seeing how the BOT has readily assumed guilt for Penn State w/o due process throughout these 10 months what do you think is their desired outcome of the trial?

  • 12. Maribeth Roman Schmidt  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    So far we have only seen the Board react to the recommendations portion of the Freeh report. How would you suggest getting them to acknowledge the conclusions portion of the report which everyone who reads it agrees is incomplete, erroneous and clearly not representative of a legal or judicial document?

  • 13. Dorothy Frank  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    First of all, thank you for having this discussion, and for allowing us to send questions prior to the show. Being one of the frustrated alumni, I’m pondering many of these questions. I also read the article in the Penn Stater, and echo the question above about “the elephant in the room”.

    What are your thoughts on the divided board? With Joel Myers, Ryan McCombie and Tony Lubrano being somewhat vocal against the rest of the board, and the alumni gearing up to elect more Trustees that will echo their frustration, how will this play out?

    Finally, what are your thoughts on Ben Novak’s interview in Onward State?

  • 14. Alice Pope  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Hope multiple questions are OK, and apologies if not. Can you talk about the reaction of Penn State faculty to the events of the past year? Do they feel they have a stake in supporting efforts to fully understand the events surrounding the Sandusky incidents, in order to genuinely address any problems that led to children being harmed on our campus? Or are they immersed in the day to day of teaching, research, scholarship, etc. (perhaps justifiably so).

  • 15. Maribeth Roman Schmidt  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    What kind of a message do you think it sends to alumni, friends of the university and current students that the leadership of Penn State is so willing to summarily and cavalierly discard — actually erase — the contributions of someone who was as giving and dedicated as Joe Paterno. Is this type of gratitude Penn State will be teaching moving forward? Will students learn that we are now guilty until proven innocent, even – and especially — when we have demonstrated an entire life of humility and generosity?

  • 16. Kathy Callahan  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    1.) I assumed, incorrectly, there was an investigation into the Second Mile Charity. Why hasn’t PSU et al, been deflecting the finger-pointing towards the true guilty agencies? The DPW, the AG/DA ‘s office mishandling under Corbett, social workers and the biggest one of all, Central Mountain HS. It’s as if Penn State took all of these agencies under their wing and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll roll over for all of you.’ It sickens me that these others are NOT even mentioned, by our OWN board!! How can we, the faithful Alumni of our beloved University ‘move on’ from this when there is way more to investigate? Trust our own Board and President, when they essentially said, ‘Yes, we’re guilty of everything the fact’Freeh Report said, so pile it on. And we’ll remove everything about Joe Paterno, but we won’t remove ourselves.’ ??? It’s hypocrisy at its finest!! How does one just ignore all this, and move on?

    2.) Will someone kindly enlighten me as to what this ‘football culture’ is?

    3.) I hope everyone has had the opportunity to read Ben Novak’s commentary on this ‘storm.’ He says it best for me.

    Thanks for doing this.

  • 17. Jean f.  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    How can we “move forward” when there are so many unanswered questions from the current administration? As an alum I am embarrassed at how my beloved Penn State has been portrayed by the media. I am even more embarrassed that Penn State hasn’t fought back and let them take down our school! It’s not about football….it’s a state of mind. WE are Penn State and I feel defeated…..and I am finding it difficult to move on at this time.

  • 18. Maribeth Roman Schmidt  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    What are your thoughts on the immediate dismissal of Dr. Spanier, who had up to that point, demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, and the desire to run point on the Sandusky Grand Jury announcement? He had the perfect language of an initial crisis communications statement — apologetic, horrified, guarded support of Schultz and Curley, combined with a commitment to investigate this case to the fullest extent. Why the need for the Board to take the reigns? How might the last ten months have been different had Dr. Spanier been trusted to guide us through?

  • 19. Mary Murphy  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Hi, everyone. Great questions here. Remember you can also ask questions at the livestream site at http://www.livestream.com/pennstater

    -Mary Murphy, associate editor

  • 20. Gary Werkheiser  |  September 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Do the Trustees believe, really believe, that Joe Paterno actually knew that Jerry Sandusky was raping little boys? And that he covered this up? And,
    If the threat of an immediate 4-year “death penalty” from the NCAA were not on the table, would President Erickson still have agreed to the consent decree? And since we have now learned that an immediate death penalty was not on the table, why won’t the Board of Trustees take the NCAA to court for the egregious, over-reaching, unfounded, sanctions that attacked Penn State’s academic integrity and culture?

  • 21. Lisa Donofrio  |  September 12, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I was in a Bed Bath and Beyond today in the Philadelphia area and PENN State merchandise was in the clearance bin. Tons of it. During football season??!!! What more needs to happen to this university and its image before this board realizes that they have reacted inappropriately- that they have allowed the media to frame this story inccorrectly- to destroy our image. What more can we do to convince them that there is no moving forward until they all step down??? Who will defend our University??

  • 22. Lisa Donofrio  |  September 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I do not agree with or appreciate the comparison to the Catholic church. Unfortunately that was a massive coverup- there should be acceptance of responsibility of cover-up- there were years and multiple people and an entire procedure for how/where to HIDE predators. There is NO proof of a coverup here- there is another trial, Has anyone on this panel actually read the freeh report?? Penn State could take the “high road” by expanding the conversation- predators in our midst by not saying we are Guilty for the actions of ONE man.

  • 23. Lisa Donofrio  |  September 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Penn State was judged: harshly in the court of public opinion” based on the reaction- or inaction of our board- of our non existent plan to deal with a situation that should have been apparent months prior…by our lousy PR and by the swallowing of a 6.5 million dollar supposition accepted as FACT by this board. Who is defending this University??? Blaming the wrong people does NOTHING to help the victims of sexual abuse.

  • 24. marcetherr  |  September 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I thought – quite mistakenly – that this was supposed to be a conversation about how Penn State can move forward. Instead, it’s just more self-flagellation. How long are we supposed to wear sackcloth and ashes?

  • 25. Lisa Donofrio  |  September 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Penn State is guilty???????????? Who is this guy??????????

  • 26. Lisa Donofrio  |  September 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    An “elite class pulling the strings”- obviously paying for this …

  • 27. Gary Werkheiser  |  September 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Sorry for my earlier off-topic question. As sociologists, don’t you think it’s too early for this type of discussion? We are very much in the middle of this situation. Their are ongoing developments, trials that haven’t occurred, possible legal actions. Aren’t you getting ahead of this, maybe in a year or two from now this discussion is relevant, but not now.

  • 28. Michelle Sinclair  |  September 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    What dynamics should the BOT utilize to engage the Alumni in some kind of a positive dialogue.? It seems right now they are doing every action to show us that we are of no value or have no important input.
    How can we be treated like indulent children with the prime example being the hiding of the statue? What is the BOT trying to accomplishment by moving on without their base?

  • 29. Lori Shontz  |  September 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    We really appreciate the lively discussion and your questions. I know we didn’t get to everything, and I know that not everyone agreed with everything Sam and Laurie said. But we also appreciate everyone’s willingness to engage. Thanks, Lori

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