For Now, and For the Future

September 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm 30 comments

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Column: A plea for respect and understanding among all who call themselves Penn Staters, and a reminder of our shared fate.

Sitting in my office on another perfect September day, I can look at the most recent issue of our magazine, and at the stories we’re writing and editing for the next one, and find constant reminders of the things that make this place great.

Working at The Penn Stater, we’re fortunate to meet and interact with a lot of the individuals whose intelligence, ingenuity, and hard work make that greatness possible. Just in the past few months, I’ve had the chance to interview faculty members whose research explains everything from the genetic influence on our voting habits to the science of zombified ants. I’ve met students who have established themselves as leaders on campus, in town, and beyond—smart, insightful young adults who are already doing important work. And of course, there are our fellow alumni. Literally every day, we hear about another alum—an artist, an educator, a public servant, or an entrepreneur—who is doing something important, unusual, or just plain cool. As writers and editors, we’re lucky to have such a rich vein of people, and stories, from which to choose.

It is this collective—of faculty and staff, of current students, and of more than half a million living alumni—who combine to make Penn State great. More than an institution, Penn State is a community, and like any community, every demographic contributes to the whole. We are greater than the sum of our parts, and we are weaker when those parts don’t function in unison. Right now, in too many ways, unity among Penn Staters seems increasingly hard to find.

There is room for constructive disagreement within a community—such critical discourse is vital. The problem is the increasingly combative, often disrespectful, and occasionally hateful tone of “debate” among various members of our community. It seems to have come to a head over the past week. The most shameful example has been the vitriol directed toward John Amaechi ’94, the former basketball standout who was chosen by the student-run Homecoming Committee as this year’s grand marshal. Comments on social media, at least some of them apparently made by alumni, used threats and homophobic slurs to attack both the committee and Amaechi, who, in the weeks after the Sandusky scandal broke, spoke honestly and bluntly about his feelings as an alumnus and former Second Mile volunteer.

I’ve known John since we both were undergrads, and I know honesty and bluntness have long been trademarks of his. Those traits, and his status as a prominent gay man outspoken on a variety of civil rights issues, make John an easy target for some—a role I know he accepts, if not always relishes. It’s valid to disagree with Amaechi’s choice of words or point of view. It’s cowardly, and should be unacceptable, to threaten and attack anyone for honest speech.

It’s easy to condemn bigotry—necessary, yes, but not hard. It’s trickier to address the rising resentment between segments of our broader community. There is no easy way, for example, to heal the rift between those who feel Penn State must “move forward” and those who remain publicly focused on righting the wrongs—real or perceived—of the past two years. I don’t believe those two goals are, or should be, mutually exclusive, and I know many alumni on both “sides” of the issue agree. But I also know that’s not the tone that dominates public discussion on the topic.

Not for the first time, the Board of Trustees meetings have served as a flash point. Emotions remain raw for many inside and outside of these gatherings, and both the public comment sessions and outside protests have provided moments of predictable conflict. Last week’s meetings seemed to hit a new low, with verbal altercations between some students and some alumni protesting outside that served only to widen an ever-growing gap of understanding between the two groups.

Increasingly, the most outspoken members of these vital segments of the Penn State community engage each other as adversaries.

Ultimately, that’s what inspired this post. My fellow senior editor, Lori Shontz ’91, and I talk often about this stuff, and we came to work on Thursday in a similar mind. Lori and I share a perspective that, if not quite unique, is relatively rare. We both have spent our careers in journalism. We’re both Penn State staff members, and we both have taught—and Lori still does, as a thoughtful and conscientious instructor in the College of Communications—as adjunct faculty. As alumni and current townies, we both mix regularly with students, faculty, staff, and other alums. As much as anyone can, we try to view every Penn State story from every possible angle.

From any angle, I find this particular story increasingly frustrating and sad.

So: Consider this a reminder. A reminder that what “we are” is a community, and that no one segment of that community exists without the others.

We are not Penn State without the faculty and staff who turn on the lights, teach the classes, serve the food, do the research, and mow the Old Main lawn.

We are not Penn State without the alumni who build the traditions, hire the recent graduates, start families of future Penn Staters, and give generously to ensure their alma mater can continue to thrive.

We are not Penn State without the students whose hard work, idealism, and ambition are the reason the rest of us have a university to work for and support.

Consider this also a plea.

To alumni, and to those who never attended a class but are invested as life-long Penn State football fans: Remember why this place exists. Remember the thousands of faculty members whose teaching and research improves lives. These brilliant, motivated people came to Penn State—and remain here—because Penn State remains a place they can do great, important work.

Remember, too, the tens of thousands of students planning and preparing for the rest of their lives. Remember that they’re living the life-defining moments you’ve already experienced, and that their experience these past two years has been among the most challenging in Penn State’s history. Remember that many of these students are working their way through college, balancing jobs and full class loads, or working toward a degree that may take years to pay off. These students, their needs and their perspective, deserve your respect, even when they might differ from yours.

And to students, particularly those in campus leadership roles, and those with a public profile and media platform that allows their voices to be heard among the din: Try not to add to the noise. Try to appreciate the emotional roots of dissatisfaction among some members of this shared community. Try, especially, not to generalize—to avoid the tone of us-vs.-them that seems increasingly to define our interaction. From State Patty’s Day to empty seats in the student section, you’ve felt victimized in the past by broad and sometimes unfair accusations; turning that broad brush against a huge alumni body you’ll soon be a part of helps no one.

The past two years have provided a harsh lesson on how easy it is for others to hold the actions of a few against an entire community. We’ve all heard countless references to “Penn State’s guilt,” as if an institution can do anything, and as if such careless language doesn’t have repercussions for everyone affiliated with it. We know this; we’ve lived it.

Too often now, such generalizations are directed at fellow members of this community. Alumni think this; students don’t understand that. Our internal discourse has taken on the worst aspects of our national political discourse: so much shouting, so little listening. No matter what side you’re on, you can see where that’s gotten us. If it continues, we only hurt Penn State. Which is to say, we only hurt ourselves.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

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Entry filed under: Alumni, Board of Trustees, Campus issues, Controversy, Sandusky scandal, Students, The Penn Stater magazine. Tags: , .

The Penn Stater Daily — Sept. 26, 2013 The Penn Stater Daily — Sept. 27, 2013

30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kay Salvino  |  September 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Great article Ryan.
    Kay Salvino

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 2. R Thomas Berner  |  September 26, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Amen.

  • 3. Chuck Gill  |  September 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Bravo Ryan. Stated very eloquently.

  • 4. Head of the snake  |  September 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Nice sentiment but why not call on the BOT to finally address lingering concerns? Why give them a free(h) pass? Arguably they are the people most responsible for the divide, excluding the convict whose name I shall omit.

  • 5. Trvlngrl  |  September 26, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Nice piece though why keep assuming that all students support student leadership? It’s rather narrow minded to believe that a student can not work, enjoy the University experience, and have a very different opinion the student leadership.

  • 6. John Carr  |  September 26, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    What I hear you saying is shut up and move on or at least be Quiet. I disagree that the alum in any way are giving John a hard time. My problem is the BOT stabbed a gentleman in the back and kicked him down the stairs. When they acknowledge they acted in haste and with out due process being pressured by the Paterno haters on the board I for one will not move on or even be quiet. John Carr, Ag Econ ’69

  • 7. Josh Fulmer  |  September 26, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Good article and all salient points, and lessons that all can take from… BUT, can you provide any evidence of any of these inappropriate tweets? Just would like to see the tweets themselves rather than relying on a “journalist”‘s interpretation of them. I asked the same question of Onward State this morning and got no response.

  • 8. Ken Roth, @DDT '64  |  September 26, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I tend to agree with you John, that’s what I hear also. At the very least it’s an attempt to divert attention from getting to the truth. Does the BOT have the power to censer the press? WOW

  • 9. Linda Berkland  |  September 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I’ve now seen 3 different outlets discussing this issue with Amaechi but I have yet to see anyone produce the evidence that 1) he was attacked or 2) that the attackers are part of the “movement” against the board. I can tell you that I think John Amaechi is a horrible choice for homecoming GM and I suggested that the homecoming committee reconsider. I received responses from Amaechi via Twitter and I can produce for you those exchanges. I was very respectful; he was NOT! If someone is going to tell me that he felt attacked, well, I completely understand because I’m very familiar with that feeling. It happens to me almost every time I enter an Ohio grocery store wearing a Penn State sweatshirt. Get over yourselves. I don’t want to argue the Amaechi story anymore. If he’s homecoming GM, so be it. I won’t be there, but if I was, I’d simply turn my back on him, as he has done to PSU. No words are necessary. I take pride in my Penn State affiliation and education; John Amaechi does not. He is trying to now backpedal and say that he was referring to his affiliation with TSM. But the question posed to him was very direct. He was asked how he felt about being introduced as a Penn State alumnus. His response was that he felt embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated. Why on Earth, would I want to support someone who feels that way, at an event intended to WELCOME HOME THE ALUMNI??

    Next year, I suggest the following: The homecoming committee needs to establish and publish a mission statement. If it’s meant to be a party for students to express their viewpoints, I’m down with that! But if it’s meant to be HOMECOMING for those who have left the university, then perhaps the people who will be coming home deserve an opinion.

    In the meantime, I would appreciate that people who wish to publish articles such as this one provide the evidence of the “apparent” vitriol or please do not include such vitriol in your article.

  • 10. Nancy Spriggs  |  September 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    @ John Carr–I could not have said that better myself! Thank you.

  • 11. Chris Morris  |  September 26, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Great article, but we all understand how great Penn State is. If the Board Of Trustees would simply get out of the way this chasm would heal on its own. Why does the board continue to exempt itself from the consequences of their own actions? Money and power. If they cared they would reform, and we could move on together. Instead they want to go down with the ship.

    Also, still waiting for these hate messages to Amaechi. From what I have seen, his behavior has been the worst.

  • 12. Scott Schoenly  |  September 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Any rift that might exist between the alumni and students exists only due to the differences in their Penn State experience. The Alumni were long lead to believe that the athletic department practiced high standards for academics and placed graduating athletes as their primary goal while also emphasizing excellence on the field of play. Decades of this line of thinking was fed to us. We now realize that the current Board of Trustees never felt this way. For reasons I haven’t yet to understood and for who knows how long, they believe athletics were placed above academics, but seemingly stood by and did nothing. Only after the NCAA stood in front of the world to disparage the Penn State culture did the BOT reveal their 180 degree position, leaving the Alumni bewildered like William Wallace when he unhooded Robert the Bruce. The current students never felt this betrayal, because they weren’t fed decades of misinformation. Therefore, the current students can be pandered to, because they will endorse the BoT current agenda. That is why the Alumni were left out of the Penn State culture survey. There is an agenda that the Alumni struggle to understand and are excluded for it. The transparency is not quite achieved. The rift has been created by the BoT and will not go away until the transparency begins.

  • 13. Jim Saunders  |  September 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    The students of my generation stood against Apartheid in South Africa, building a “Shanty Town” on the Old Main Mall. I am sure that many alumni (and indeed many students) thought “let’s just move on and let South Africa handle that mess themselves. It’s not our business.” I, myself, kept my distance from the protests. As I look back at those protests with all that I have learned in my years since I was a student, I know now that what those students (now Alumni) did was the absolute right thing to do. They were vocal. They were a minority. But, most importantly, they were right. Read here about the “Football Culture” at Penn State. http://articles.philly.com/1986-03-17/news/26082787_1_shanties-penn-state-students-shantytown

  • 14. Gary Werkheiser  |  September 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Good points LindA John and others. If the alumni are such an integral part of the Penn State community, why are our voices not being heard. Why does the BoT try to marginalize us, limit us to 3 minutes to comment, refuse to answer our questions, refuse to admit the major flaws in the Freeh Report, refuse to stand up to the NCAA, refuse to stand up for Penn State. You say We Are, we hear no you’re not.

  • 15. John Noll  |  September 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Great post Ryan. While I agree with the sentiment expressed by many that our University has been cast in a overly hash light, I will remember that it is a University. It is not a football team, an athletic department or the home chapter of a fan club. The students and faculty are the people that should have the majority say in how things work and move forward at Penn State. They should be able to do so without having their campus hijacked every other week by groups of people more concerned about their own memories than about the future of the University or it’s football program.

  • 16. Joseph E. Jurdana  |  September 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Our community will never re-unite until tha Quislings on the Bard of Trustees leave. The agricultural and business representatives are on the board only to fed their low self-esteem and have no idea what Penn State is. The governer’s appointments are playoffs for political favors. They are equally morally corrupt. As for Amaechi, be honest, the only reason he is the GM is because he is a homosexual.

  • 17. John Grabill  |  September 26, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    As I travel about the country, I am continually asked about the controversy we have dealt with over the past 2 years. I continually defend the university but still hold the administration and the BOT culpable for our current situation. I’ll move on when Erickson is gone and the BOT is reconstituted with new members that were not on the board when this travesty was swept under the rug. Our university needs a BOT that is committed to guiding the university in research and education not football revenue.

    John Grabill, 79 LA

  • 18. Dean Delach  |  September 26, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    My experience is the vast majority of alums need no reminders of why Penn State exists. Many alums have been, and continue to be, great ambassadors for Penn State. We continue to donate not only money, but also time in support of PSU. Students and faculty as well have done PSU proud. The people who have failed the university are the supposed leaders……Erickson and the BOT. They are the ones that bowed to media pressure and refused to defend the university. When Freeh and Emmert and others attacked the PSU culture, where were they in defending it? Nowhere. But many alumni across the country did exactly that, and continue to do so.

    The goals of moving forward and righting the wrongs are mutually exclusive because PSUs leaders have chosen to make them that way, believing that the only way to move forward is to roll over and accept the slings and arrows delivered our way. Alumni, in fact, continue to support the university, the students, the football team…..while at the same time leading the fight to right the wrongs.

  • 19. Wendy Silverwood  |  September 27, 2013 at 8:24 am

    A very thoughtful article Ryan, thank you.

    I can’t comment on the vitriol aimed at Mr. Amaechi, but I can express my concern, offer my apologies and state my dismay. I am in hopes evidence of such remarks is made public and those held accountable.

    That said, I think you are weaving separate threads into this piece. This is a very complex story, and I think the best thing to do is to pull out those defective threads that are affecting the quality of this wonderful tapestry that we know as Penn State.

    One particular inferior thread is Freeh. When that thread was warped into our fabric last July, the integrity & strength of the Blue & White fabric was compromised and continues to affect the integrity of the entire piece.

    I attended that press conference that humid summer morning in Phily. As I told Trustees Frazier & Lubert this past March, the massive satellite trucks alone out on 17th street looked capable of launching an air strike….and they did they ever.

    We alums sat in the back of the room aghast at what was presented. The story of the “janitors” was a particularly hard one to digest. Freeh contemptibly spoke of “The Penn State Way” as if it were something to be horribly & utterly ashamed of. The press were all over us afterwards for comment.

    How do you intelligently respond when your reality was destroyed on National TV and across the web, in under an hour?

    We now know the “janitor story” was contrived, along with many other flaws, bad data, misconceptions, exclusion of exculpatory evidence and outright manufactured spin & innuendo.

    Mr. Freeh has been publicly asked to appear before the University and discuss his findings (as he published on July 12, 2012 he would do) along with Mr. Thornburgh & Mr. Clemente and to date, it’s been silence.

    What are we waiting for? Let’s replace this inferior warp with a strong yarn and continue weaving the Blue & White story.

  • 20. Carolyn Alton  |  September 27, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Ryan,

    Awesome Article!

    As an alum ’08, our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice, job networking and mentor opportunities, and information about what to expect in the future. We have graduates all over the world, ready to help.

    The past two years have been difficult for many of us. However, it helps to remind myself of what I learned as an undergrad about the Penn State Principles. “I will respect the dignity of all individuals within the Penn State community.” Penn State is committed to creating and maintaining an educational environment that respects the right of all individuals. Any actions motivated by hate, prejudice, or intolerance violate this principle.

    We can’t change the behavior of a few who will not respect others because of their own hate, prejudice, discrimination, and ridiculing. However, we can continue the practice we all agreed to as a Penn Stater! “I will respect the dignity of all individuals within the Penn State community.” This is Penn State and what we do best.”

  • 21. Mary Cooper (@mlcoop3)  |  September 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

    The student population has their means of expression- their student publications. Here they report happenings and exercise their editorial right by voicing their (collective, individual) opinion. Some of the alumni, still connected, loyal & caring, follow these publishings, as we follow the alumni publishing, The Penn Stater.
    Can’t help but notice the tone, the themes & and implications, and not make some comparison between the 2 entities. Not something I care to do, but here we are.
    Can I say this? – the student publications point fingers, accuse, blame, and are suggestive of proper behavior. There is no hesitation on calling out the bad guy. They take a stand.
    This article in The Penn Stater, IMHO, is thoughtful and measured. ‘Mature’ is another term I would apply to the tone of this article.
    There are differences.

    Let it be known, these alumni support Penn State. Many have sent their children there, many have children there now. We follow PSU news, we cheer and we cry over the goods & the bads. We donate. Sometimes we don’t see the same as the students, and sometimes we just may possibly see or have seen MORE than that of the student, at each of our collective times.
    Yes, as a plea, reasoning and understanding can happen and be mutual. Take the time, give it the time.

  • 22. Jennifer  |  September 27, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Good article. The sad reality is that many of us alumni don’t “recognize” the university we attended any longer. How the PSU leadership conducted themselves on November 9, 2011 was the nuclear bomb. I said it that evening..”PSU and the board will never get past this action.” Current students cannot be expected to understand.You will never fully appreciate what Joe Paterno did for your university and her sudents because you were not there during the “growth” years.He molded many of us by his commitment to honesty, integrity and hard work. As a 1985 Alum, I find it beyond comprehension that our own trustees acted so rashly. They never let the truth lead the punishment. And because of that, nothing short of an admittance of this will suffice for many Alumni. I wish the best to current PSU students. You have a beautiful university.

  • 23. Ray Blehar  |  September 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Ryan,
    Thank you for the article, but the full story of John Amaechi was not told. John went on national TV and spoke honestly about what he knew about PSU. When new facts came to light, particularly that McQueary did not witness what was in the Grand Jury Report and that there was a colossal failure on the part of PA DPW to apprehend Sandusky in 1998, John would not engage in thoughtful discourse about the new information. Instead, he called people “sycophants” and then blocked them from his facebook page. I know because I was one of those people.

    So, one very important part of the story was missing – the inital OFFENSIVE comments made to alumni by John Amaechi himself.

    What happened after that was/is indeed wrong. I should know, because I got caught up in it and made a remark about John that was mildly inappropriate (John called the comment “tame”). As an individual who holds myself to a relatively high standard of conduct, I apologized to John.

    I believe that John Amaechi would be well served to review the facts of the case and reassess his position. As a school looking for healing, perhaps John Amaechi could serve a greater good for PSU than simply being Homecoming Grand Marshal.

    Bob Costas and others, including Prosecutor Frank Fina, have changed some of their positions on the scandal. As an alumnus, I’m waiting to see if John Amaechi will follow suit.

  • 24. Gary Werkheiser  |  September 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Great response, Ray Blehar. More people should know your direct observations of Mr. Amaechi’s behavior. I saw it on Facebook as well, and I saw NO racial or homophobic remarks. But Mr. Amaechi is not the issue, and once again we are being misdirected by the powers that be.

    Another comment on this narrative, the author makes a plea to alumni and students, but no plea to the parties most responsible for this mess, the group that is driving this wedge between fellow Penn Staters, the Board of Trustees and President Erickson. They refuse to address our concerns, refuse to have an open and honest dialogue on the issues. They have tried to marginalize us, saying we are a vocal minority and repeating the “move on” mantra. Well we are not moving on, as you can see. The comments above, most with similar views, are indicative of the majority of alumni that continue to fight for due process.

  • 25. Liz Bligan  |  September 27, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I met John Amaechi when he spoke to Council several years ago — right after his book was published. I had a fairly lengthy conversation with him. I was greatly impressed by his intelligence, his communication skills, his support of the underdog. Then he came out and said he was ashamed to be a Penn State graduate, because he believed the GJ presentment and everything the Freeh report concluded. Now that so much more information has come out showing how profoundly flawed Freeh’s conclusions were — indeed, how manipulated and flat-out fraudulent some of them were — he refuses to even consider the possibility that perhaps PSU and Joe were wrongly convicted. I respect him no more. A person who wants others to take into consideration all aspects of a situation or person, who then refuses to do the same, is a hypocrite. A person who states that he is ashamed to be a Penn State graduate surely should not be a Homecoming Parade Grand Marshall. He is ashamed, so he should stay away. Denounce any relationship with PSU. Or, he should open his mind to the possibility (at least, but to me, the certainty) that PSU and Joe Paterno were convicted of awful things without any due process whatsoever, and to examining all of the mounds of evidence showing that.

    If people are throwing homophobic slurs at John Amaechi, they should be called to task. They’re wrong. But anyone challenging John’s right to be the GM of a homecoming parade for the University he’s ashamed to be an alumnus of is absolutely correct. And Ryan conveniently leaves out how John abuses and bans everyone who has the temerity to disagree with him. His ego is showing. He allows only sycophants to comment on his tweets and his FB posts.

    The BOT declared PSU’s guilt the moment they fired Joe — that firing was a public declaration to the world — “You’re right. Joe Paterno and Penn State placed more importance on the image of the football program than on children’s safety.” There was no due process, there was no defense of the University. The GJ Presentment was just that, a presentment — an opinion piece only. It wasn’t a document that provided the other side’s rebuttal, it was a document meant to justify the indictments. It was a document that contained a flat-out lie (that McQueary had testified that he witnessed anal rape, when he gave no such testimony in any of the multiple and differing accounts of what he “saw” that night) — and the BOT did nothing but roll over. “Thank you sir, may I have another” has been their mantra since November 7.

    Students are not the least aware of the importance that Joe Paterno and the football program’s unique academic integrity have meant to PSU. We never had a “football culture” problem — our “football culture” was one where the head coach promised the players’ parents that they would graduate, not that they would start or make it to the NFL. Our “football culture” was one where the head coach held his players accountable to attending classes. Our “football culture” was one where the head coach required one Parade All American high school player to read 12 books over the summer before college, and write a book report on each one, as a condition of getting a football scholarship. That the BOT continues to bow and scrape at the NCAA’s feet when they pat us on our little heads in congratulations for “improving” our “football culture” is loathsome and inexcusable. The students don’t understand that because they were not witness to our true “football culture.” They’re easily manipulated by the BOT for this reason.

  • 26. Matt  |  September 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I read the “For Now, & For the Future” (Penn Stater Magazine) article & understand the sentiment. Yes, we all as Penn Staters: Alums., students, faculty, staff, admin., fans, our families, & others associated with the PSU community do have to find a civil common ground with one another, even if we disagree upon things regarding certain issues, whatever they may be, & respect one another regardless of any differences on things, that’s how our great constitutional republic works, if we co-exist in common decency with one another, which the 1st amendment allows. A point from the piece stated about righting the wrongs of the past; now, understand, that’s something (whether you agree with it or not) that must be done, thus to improve the Univ. community for the safety of all, so such things never, ever again occur here or anywhere for that matter. If you don’t take constructive criticisms & build upon them, thus to learn from it, & fix failures to overcome & grow positively for the betterment of success for all, you’ll never learn your lesson, & in not doing so, some would say “you’ll just continue to spin your wheels”, or be doomed to risk of repeating history if you don’t know it (your past). & do any of us want to go through again down the line, the things that we have been through as a community & dealt with negative attitudes I’m sure many of us have experienced with this or answer & explained away for & gone through in all of the recent saga? I’d say No. Now, do we all as Penn Staters want our Univ. leadership (i.e. BOT/admin.) @ the top to communicate more rigorously efficient fashion with all the PSU community as a whole & really truly soul search to understand & take to heart our concerns For the Future That We Wait I ask, well the answer to that is yes. Now, to touch on a couple other things from the column & others of late regarding PSU I’ve read: regardless of whether you or we agree with one another’s lifestyles or opinions on recent news events & policy or not, doesn’t give any involved the reason to attack one another. Penn Staters, We Are better than that, & you know that my Nittany Nation family. Also, to add to another Alum.’s point as relates to nittany nation & attitude among it, – We Are All Penn Staters, regardless of whether you were ever affiliated with a commonwealth satellite branch campus, or @ Univ. Park. I get tired of the downing one another to one up to boost one’s fragile ego. I personally was affiliated with a branch campus yrs. ago in my psu career (Altoona), & took summer classes @ others (Beaver & Fayette in Pgh. region), & the relationships I made there carried to the end of my PSU career @ Univ. Park, & many of them I still remain close with today, with even a few I had in my wedding last summer. So, in retrospect to wrap up, Penn Staters We Are…One Family Team. Civilly Respect & Co-Exist with one another in a fashion of common sense decency of which I know We Are All capable of. Those who came before us wanted such lofty ideals for not the College that was but the College that Was To Be. & to invoke or relate such feeling comparison to re-instill that thread among the Lion Pride, remember how you felt after 9/11 for not just your fellow Penn Stater, but your fellow American(s) & family, & always take to heart the line of the Alma Mater: May No Act of Ours Bring Shame to One Heart That Loves Thy Name, May Our Lives But Swell Thy Fame, Dear Ole’ State, Dear Ole’ State! We Are…
    – PSU Kines.-HHD 07′ Alum. Matt Becker
    also, note points from: http://notpsu.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-lte-of-collegianwell-see-if-they.html?m=1

  • 27. Richard Randall  |  September 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    The crux of this article is that Penn Staters should treat each other with civility and respect. The BOT and Rod Erickson are not responsible for the behavior of students or alumni toward each other. We are the ones who decide how we treat each other and how we each represent Penn State to the rest of the world.

    The BOT and president are fair game for those who want to disagree with them, advocate for change, or campaign for election to the BOT. Fair enough. But portraying those alumni or students who want to move forward, or who have some doubts about what Joe Paterno or others should or should not have done as traitors to Penn State or the Paterno family, or as idiots who haven’t seen the light, is not right and it’s not helpful.

    The thing that makes Penn State special to many of us is the feeling that no matter how old or young we are, or where we are, we are a family. We don’t feel that way because of the BOT or the president and we won’t get it back by shouting each other down or forming a circular firing squad.

  • 28. Ken Roth, @DDT '64  |  September 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    The people you are talking about are an very small minority, unfortunately they are also a very loud minority. Most of the student body and alumni are decent and treat each other with respect.

  • 29. Gary Werkheiser  |  September 28, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    If the Alumni Association is truly the official organization that represents alumni of Penn State, perhaps the Association could help facilitate a better dialogue between alumni and students. For that matter, perhaps the Association could facilitate a better dialogue between alumni and the Board of Trustees and leadership of Penn State. There will always be individuals who act inappropriately, and I don’t condone such behavior, but some of this is coming from increasing frustration.

    Our voices and concerns are being ignored by the BoT. We have valid questions that they refuse to answer. Why? Our duly elected trustees have been told not to speak about Board business. The University has spent millions on the scandal without so much as an objection. We have been damned by the false conclusions in the Freeh Report which forms the basis for the egregious NCAA sanctions. Even the NCAA has backtracked, under the false guise that its due to our “progress” as if we ever really had an academic/athletic problem. The prosecutor in the Sandusky trial has stated that there is no evidence that Joe Paterno was involved in a cover up. And the trials of Spanier, Schultz and Curley lie ahead. What will the Board’s reaction be if (when) they are acquitted? Probably the same, we’ve moved on from all of that, you should too.

    Many alumni disagree with the handling of the situation, yet we are ignored and told to move on. We are not a minority, and I believe the Association’s own surveys back this up. Do we have a voice in this University or not? Are WE Penn State or are we not?

  • 30. Bill Levinson PSU B.S. '78  |  October 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Ryan, it is a nice platitude that we are all Penn State, but here is the reality. I have a tooth, which is part of my body, that I will have to have extracted and replaced with an implant because an old failed root canal is causing periodontal disease and bone loss. My body cannot “move forward” until that bad tooth is removed, and an implant and crown put into its place to do its job.

    Most of Penn State’s Trustees, along with the likes of John Amaechi, are to Penn State what that tooth is to my mouth; a former asset that is now nothing but a liability, and a source of disease. A malignant tumor is also what was once healthy tissue, and a normal part of the body that it infests, but it is clearly a deadly danger that has to come out before it kills the patient. Most of the Trustees are Nittany Lion cancer.

    I think the saying “to cut something (or somebody) loose” comes from the age of sail. A mast, its sails, and its rigging were valuable parts of the ship, just as the Trustees and Amaechi are part of Penn State. If the mast broke, or was cut down by enemy cannon fire, it turned instantly into a liability that endangered the ship, and everybody aboard. The sailors therefore had to use axes to “cut it loose,” and drop the former asset into the sea so it could not prevent the ship from maneuvering, or the sailors from doing their jobs. (If the ship was not under enemy fire, or in some kind of other danger, an effort might be made to salvage the items in question.)

    “It’s cowardly, and should be unacceptable, to threaten and attack anyone for honest speech.” That’s if you acknowledge calling Joe Paterno a “part time man of character” honest or honorable speech, which I emphatically do not. Had Amaechi apologized, I would feel differently, but he didn’t, so I don’t.

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