Posts filed under ‘Sandusky scandal’
Leave it to NPR business and financial reporter Jim Zarroli to sum up why so many alumni of The Daily Collegian got together last weekend to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Penn State’s independent student newspaper.
Zarroli ’79, the keynote speaker at Saturday night’s banquet, told the story of his years at Penn State, when he arrived as an uncertain freshman who wasn’t sure where he belonged … until he found himself on the Collegian staff. There, he began growing into the professional he is today because, he explained, “We weren’t just learning journalism. We were doing it.”
But he got something else from the hours and hours he spent reporting and writing and just hanging out in the Collegian office. Said Zarroli, “It really became my home.”
I knew the feeling—both of them, really. (I appeared in a house ad for the Collegian in the mid-1990s, and the copy read something like, “Everything I needed to know about journalism, I learned at The Daily Collegian.” Still true.) And I know each of the other nearly 200 alums who were listening to Zarroli could identify, too.
There’s an immediate kinship among various generations of staffers. It doesn’t matter whether you laid out the paper with the latest version of Quark or wielded a photo wheel and an Exacto knife. Or whether your first assignment was to ask people sitting on The Wall along College Avenue where they bought their pot (true story, related Friday night by a 1970s alum) or, as was true for some students last year, you jumped right into covering the biggest news story in Penn State’s history.
I’m sure there’s a similar feeling among students and alums devoted to other activities. (One of my best friends, Laura Eckert Thompson ’92, made that point in this column geared toward incoming freshmen in a 1991 Collegian magazine.) But one of the things I loved about the Collegian is that although our group was tightly connected, we were never insular. We had to know and understand the other student groups, the other students’ concerns. We felt a true responsibility to the rest of the student body—we were their newspaper.
Which is part of what got last year’s staff through the late nights and long days covering the Sandusky scandal and Joe Paterno’s death.
At a panel Saturday morning featuring 2011-2012 staffers, Anna Orso, now managing editor, then the cops reporter (and a student in my news writing class), explained that the staff believed their role was “to tell the narrative of the student body.” Current editor/last year’s managing editor Casey McDermott told of how they explained the legal terms in the first print paper, realizing that most students wouldn’t know them. (At the time, I commented on what a great idea that was.) Last year’s editor, Lexi Belculfine ’12, said the opinion page was a place “to urge our peers to think critically.”
The news staff showed their story budgets and other planning documents (click here if you’re a news nerd and want a look), told how the opinion editor, Jordan Cole ’12, became a de-facto psychologist for the upset alumni and students who wrote or even called, just wanting to talk to someone, and related how they blew off the national editors who called wanting story tips and tried to sweeten the deal by saying they’d be sure to remember the Collegian kids the next time they had a job opening.
Of course the students would have none of that. No Collegianaire, from any era, would have. What an insult. I’m insulted again, just writing that.
Staffers from the business side spoke, too, explaining how they kept advertising as constant as possible during the scandal and sold thousands of commemorative newspapers. (As Amy Zurzola Quinn ’94 tweeted, “If these students could keep biz afloat, keep advertisers during scandal, just THINK what they’ll do when you hire them.”)
Last weekend reminded me what a great tradition I’m part of. The entire staff of the 2011-12 staff was inducted into the Collegian Hall of Fame. They were joined by Larry Foster ’48, a former managing editor; Jane Murphy Schultz ’43, the first female editor-in-chief, who died in 2010; and the wife-and-husband team of Roberta Hutchinson ’48 and Allan Ostar ’48, who were the other stars of the weekend.
The Ostars donated the first scholarship earmarked solely for Collegian staffers, and it’s easy to see why they feel so connected. They met there. When they stood to be recognized, Allan said, “They say some marriages are made in heaven. This marriage was made at The Daily Collegian.”
Wild cheers and applause, of course. Possibly a few tears, as well.
I’m going to give the last word to Lou Bell ’29, a former Collegian editor who wrote an amazing final column, what the students now would call a “senior send-off.” General manager Patti Hartranft quotes it a lot, and no wonder:
Whether it be by the decree of Fate or Circumstance or Death, there must come an end to every joy. There must come a time when the standard-bearer must release his fingers from the banner that he had so ardently striven to hold aloft, when he must pass the banner to other hands, reluctant to give it up but confident that strong and willing hands will keep it afloat and speed it forward until still other hands clutch it. That runs the eternal cycle.
We are proud that the banner still floats, that it goes ever forward. Plainly speaking, we are confident that the new editorial and business staffs of the Penn State Collegian are competent and willing enough to carry on—and on—and on. To our successors, congratulations, good fortune, good heart.
And, above all—good heart.
That, as far as I’m concerned, says everything.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Anyone paying even partial attention to the events over the past year at Penn State must know a little about the Clery Act. That’s the law that governs how universities report crime statistics, and in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, Penn State is being investigated for not complying fully with the act.
Penn State is beefing up its compliance (it hired a Clery Act compliance director, Gabriel Gates, in March), and as part of that, earlier this month I attended a mandatory training.
I’m the faculty adviser for a student group called Paws of Friendship, which raises money to buy toys for children in orphanages and does other community service projects. That makes me a Campus Security Authority, and therefore mandated by law to report information about a crime that I hear about in my role as a faculty adviser. (More on that in a minute.)
It was an interesting session, and I learned a little more about the law and what, exactly, it requires.
For instance, faculty members aren’t Campus Security Authorities. Neither are academic counselors or most staff members. The group does include faculty advisers to student groups, coaches, residential life staffers (including RAs), university police, and other security personnel hired by Penn State.
The law covers all public and private universities that get federal aid (which is just about all of them) and requires them to do these things: (more…)
Dana Carlisle Kletchka ’10g and her husband, Paul ’05, not only have been a part of the Penn State community since 2000, but also live next door to the home of Jerry and Dottie Sandusky. So they’ve followed the events of the past year with special interest. They attended Jerry Sandusky’s sentencing on Tuesday; we asked Dana to write about the experience.
On Tuesday, my husband I sat in the next-to-last row of seats in a crowded Victorian courtroom and listened as a judge sentenced the man we knew as our next-door neighbor to 30 to 60 years in prison, thus ending a nearly year-long story that we could not have imagined in our wildest dreams.
Eleven years ago we moved into a neighborhood that is so tucked away that it was not uncommon for food delivery drivers to request specific instructions on how to reach our home. Now, months after Jerry’s conviction, there are still strange cars that move slowly up the street, pause at the end of the road in front of the Sandusky home, and then turn around in our driveway before silently vanishing back into the trees.
Our drive to Bellefonte was not unlike many of our other trips to the quaint Victorian town, though it was punctuated with a nervous silence and a sense of urgency. It wasn’t until we were in line for public passes and it looked like we had a good chance of getting in to the court room that I allowed myself to take in the spectacle that was in front of me—dozens of reporters with perfectly coiffed hair and pressed trench coats clutching microphones and checking their mobile devices, big white trucks with large call letters on the side and satellite dishes hovering over them, and sound technicians in warm jackets bending over their equipment, disposable cups of steaming coffee in hand.
Across the street, the burned-out shell of a hotel, nestled in between two beautiful Victorian buildings, stood as witness to destruction, and it occurred to me (more…)
The biggest takeaway from a panel discussion Wednesday night titled “The Future of the NCAA and its Membership,” I thought, came at the end. And it didn’t come from either of the biggest names on the panel: Gene Corrigan or Cedric Dempsey, both former NCAA presidents.
It was R. Scott Kretchmar, Penn State’s former NCAA faculty representative and current professor of kinesiology, who said, “I think one of the difficulties that faculty and others who love Penn State are having at this time is, the issue of knowing that we need to move forward—we can’t keep tilling the soil; we have to get on with it—but the circumstances under which we’re now suffering were so unusual that it’s very difficult to do that.
“And so there may be a period of time where we have to ask questions: Were we treated fairly? Was there any kind of justice here? But eventually, we’re going to move on. Penn State’s strong. We’re going to have a good future.”
Those were the questions on everyone’s mind Wednesday night, and Kretchmar accurately described the mood of the crowd, a mix of students and townspeople.
Look at the title of the event, which was (more…)
It’s been interesting to see what’s happened to the site outside Beaver Stadium where Joe Paterno’s statue once stood. It’s just a grassy hillside now, but some people are treating the spot almost as if the statue is still there: They leave little mementos in the grass, especially on home football weekends.
The weekend of the Ohio game, someone put a tiny Bobblehead Joe in the grass. I think someone stuck a miniature cardboard Stand-Up Joe there at one point. And this past weekend there suddenly were flowers with notes, a ballcap, game tickets, and other items—along with a sign that said “KARMA HAS NO DEADLINE.” (See photo, below.)
Penn State art historian Brian Curran wouldn’t be surprised to see that, I don’t think. I interviewed Curran at the end of July, nine days after the statue came down, for a piece in our Sept-Oct issue. We ran it as a short Q&A in the magazine, and posted a longer version of it here on the blog. I sought him out for some academic, historical perspective on statues of heroes—from ancient Egypt, to ancient Rome, through the Renaissance and on up to present times.
I was especially interested in how various societies have dealt with statues of heroes who fall out of favor: In ancient Egypt, for example, (more…)
We asked our intern, Erika Spicer, to attend Joe Posnanski’s talk Friday at the HUB. We’ve read and written so much over the past 10 months about Paterno and his legacy, and we were interested in Erika’s perspective—both as an undergraduate, and in particular as a journalism major. Here’s what she came away with.
As I sat in my plastic chair in Alumni Hall waiting for Paterno author Joe Posnanski to speak, I mulled over the fact I probably wasn’t going to learn anything new.
I am so tired of listening to people rehash the events surrounding Joe Paterno, I thought to myself, feeling a twinge of guilt as I sat among some Paterno supporters. With the release of Paterno in the midst of a new era for Penn State football, I knew where a lot of this discussion was headed Friday afternoon.
As I predicted, questions like, “How do you think Joe Paterno would feel about the NCAA sanctions?” popped up when moderator Malcolm Moran, director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, which sponsored the talk, gave audience members the opportunity to ask Posnanski questions. Not that I could blame them –– after all, Posnanski not only spent (more…)
The bookends were familiar at Saturday morning’s Rally for Resignations, which was held, organizer Eileen Morgan ’90 said, because “we believe the Penn State Board of Trustees has mismanaged the affairs of our university,” and therefore that the members of the board should step down. (She detailed her position recently in a full-page ad in the Centre Daily Times; you can read the text here.)
The opening act: football star Franco Harris ’72, introduced as the person who began talking about due process from Day One. He stood next to a Stand-Up Joe, assured the crowd that “we’re not a cult, as many believe, but we are loyal,” and argued that the trustees’ faulty decision-making after the Sandusky scandal had “laid a path of destruction never before seen on any college campus.”
The closing speaker: Anthony Lubrano ’82, who was elected to the Board of Trustees in May after becoming perhaps the second-most visible critic of how Penn State handled the Sandusky scandal. He joked that he had to “be fairly guarded” because he’s a member of the board now, but he continued to sound the theme he’s stressed since November: “We cannot move forward by leaving behind the people who made us who we are.” That’s primarily Joe Paterno, of course.
But to me, it was the lesser-known speakers in between who got to the heart of why nearly 1,000 people attended the event on the Old Main lawn.
One was John O’Donnell ’67, a faculty member in Health and Human Development, who said that many of his fellow faculty members would think he’s crazy for attending. But he told of how he came to the university in 1964, and he drew loud cheers when he said, “I think I know the culture of this university after 48 years better than Louis Freeh or Mark Emmert.”
This speaks to what I’ve heard so many critics of the board and Penn State’s administration say in a variety of forums, including our Livestream conversation with Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey ’94g on Wednesday: that the criticism of the university’s culture in both the Freeh report and in the NCAA’s reasoning for handing down unprecedented sanctions against the football program is inaccurate and unfair. And that neither the university nor the Board of Trustees has defended Penn State in the court of public opinion.
O’Donnell stressed that in his years as a faculty member, he’d never been asked to do anything special for an athlete, and he reminded the crowd of Penn State’s top ranking both among recruiters in a Wall Street Journal survey and the number of Fulbright grants among the university’s faculty. You can get a good sense of his remarks by clicking here to read a piece he wrote for Onward State.
The other was Larry Schultz ’80, who opened his remarks by saying that he was going to list everything that the trustees had done wrong since Nov. 5. Someone in the crowd yelled, “The game starts at 3:30,” prompting a wave of laughter and applause. He also said that because he was a fair guy, he’d list what the board did right, too. Dead silence—except for more laughter and cheers.
More than any other speaker, Schultz enumerated what he thinks the board has done wrong: not being aware of the March 31, 2011, story in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News that Jerry Sandusky ’67, ’71g was under investigation for child sex abuse, not making any public statements to counter the “talking heads” who blasted Penn State in various media throughout November, hiring Lanny Davis and Louis Freeh (whom he considers ineffective at best), and failing to resign.
Schultz pointed out that Steve Garban ’59, who was chair of the board when the scandal broke, did resign in July, “in part because he failed to alert the rest of the board” to the upcoming indictment. He questioned why John Surma ’76 and Jim Broadhurst ’65, who were also identified in the Freeh report as trustees who had known the Sandusky indictment was coming down, haven’t followed Garban’s lead.
And he wanted to know why the board’s new chair, Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77, hadn’t followed through on conducting alumni town hall meetings. So he declared the rally as the first one.
After cheers, Schultz added, “These people will be selecting our next president unless we do something.”
The crowd was passionate but well behaved throughout. Some people were clearly just passing by. I saw two people quietly holding “Proud To Support President Erickson” signs, designed in the same style as the “Proud To Support Penn State Football” and “Proud To Support Penn State Academics” signs that are hanging in windows around town.
But most people were there to call for the Board of Trustees to resign. They wore their typical blue-and-white gameday attire or shirts that said “Forever 409” or “Hey, Media, We Know The Truth,” or “Make an Impact,” or “Overstepping Their Bounds and Punishing the Innocent.”
The rally lasted an hour. Some people granted interviews to the media; others appeared to be heading directly to tailgates. I have no idea what happens next, but we’ll be watching and listening—and reporting.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Going in to Wednesday’s livestream conversation with Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey ’94g, there were only a few things we at The Penn Stater knew for sure: Whether the viewer count hit 3 or 300, the people who joined in would care deeply about the issues and want their voices heard. And that the door would be open—for an honest, emotional, and sometimes controversial discussion.
We were right on both counts.
Around 200 people from Facebook, Twitter, and the livestream chat spent one and a half hours talking about the big issues along with Sam and Laurie. Viewers brought up questions about identity, personal responsibility, loyalty, lack of trust in our leaders, and the biggest question of all: Where do we go from here?
Some (very abridged) highlights:
Viewer question: Why should alumni and students take responsibility for the scandal? We did nothing wrong.
Laurie: This was handed to the Penn State community by fate, the same way a hurricane is handed to a particular town. This isn’t a Penn State problem, but it was given to us to say, ‘OK, how can we deal with this?’
Sam: Penn State has been given this burden. Maybe the honorable approach is to accept a certain amount of punishment. That’s a big thing to say, but what if we stepped outside the box? We if we said, “Let me see if there’s a higher road here.” It’s really easy to beat the drums and yell and scream, but what might be an alternative path? Fighting the sanctions—what does that look like? Is that an honorable approach?
How can we move forward when we feel the truth isn’t out yet?
Laurie: We all want the truth, and the reality is, we as human beings don’t often get to live in the truth. We don’t get the opportunity where other people see us for who we are. The intention here is to seek the truth, and follow it out as long as it takes, but in the meantime, recognize that we don’t have the privilege of being seen how Penn State wants to be seen. We join humanity in that, and we, as people of Penn State, aren’t unique in that. It’s humbling.
Sam: Penn State has been judged very harshly by the court of public opinion, and when the court of public opinion comes down in such a powerful way, that becomes the truth for millions and millions of people. So what do we do with the fact that that is now the truth? We may say, wait a minute, that’s not the truth. But we have to find a way to live within that, because that’s the truth to many people. I can sit here and be angry about that, and sometimes I am. But is there another way around that? How might I grow? How might I expand?
I hate that Penn State has adopted the blue ribbons for child-abuse awareness, because it feels like an admission of guilt—like a scarlet letter.
Sam: I understand that, especially when things like this are done for political reasons. But here’s the other side: What if every time you see a blue ribbon, you think about the fact that 1 in 8 of your female friends, sisters, aunts, neighbors, etc. has experienced child sexual abuse in some way? And 1 in 10 of your male friends? What if the blue ribbons meant that, and what if I really took the time to think about that and let that influence my life? What might happen? Because when you sit together at a Thanksgiving meal, and you’ve got 10 or 12 people, somebody has had that experience. And very likely, the abuser is somebody who may also be sitting at that table. So, when we take the blue ribbons, what if we used that as a lens? Put the blue-ribbon lens on and look at the world?
Whether you agree or disagree with Sam and Laurie—and with one another—the most encouraging part of all this is that the conversation continues. Since the stream ended at 9:30 p.m. last night, viewers are still posting opinions and ideas on this blog, to Twitter (with the hash tag #pennstater), to our Facebook page, and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we welcome your questions, comments, and feedback.
If you missed last night’s livestream, you can watch the video in its entirety here. (Unfortunately, the conversation in the chat box to the right of the screen is no longer available.)
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Greetings from the airport at San Francisco, where I’m just wrapping up a long weekend (a long weekend in the city, that is—not the airport).
The Alumni Association’s San Francisco Bay Area Chapter invited me out here to speak to their group about the magazine and about the ongoing crisis that we Penn Staters are all going through. I did that on Friday night, and then they invited me to join them Saturday morning at a bar in the Marina/Cow Hollow neighborhood called Monaghan’s to watch the Penn State/Virginia football game. That was a cool experience; like many Penn State chapters around the country, the Bay Area Penn Staters have found a friendly bar willing to host them on football Saturdays—and, in many cases, to open at 9 a.m. for games that start at noon on the East Coast. There were about 50 Penn Staters crammed into this very small bar and, man, were they enthusiastic. They high-five like crazy after good plays, and even cheer the “It’s Your Time” commercial for Penn State when it comes on at halftime.
Big thanks to the San Francisco chapter folks for making me feel welcome, especially chapter president Sarah Roach ’06, Seth Hernandez ’06, Therese Jones ’11, Stella Kim ’06, Jay Hauser, and Mary Beth Walleisa ’11 (a former QWK Rock DJ like me!). It was also fun to see Dennis ’67 and Carol Paoletti again—I met them on the Alumni Association’s Oberammergau trip two years ago—and Lauren Hauptman ’90, who used to be editor of the Golden Gate State University alumni magazine. And Jeremy Barry ’98 gets points for showing up for the game-watching party wearing an autographed LaVar Arrington jersey. (I’m sure I’m forgetting someone.)
I had a chance to explore San Francisco—one of my favorite cities—a bit on the weekend, and to visit with my nephew and his wife, who live in the Bay Area. Then yesterday I took the BART over to Hayward, on the East Bay, to speak to a small group of alumni magazine editors in the region—people who work at places like Cal State East Bay, Sonoma State, Berkeley, and Santa Clara. The Penn Stater has kinda been the talk of the alumni magazine world these last 10 months, as we’re going through every university magazine’s worst nightmare—an institutional scandal of historic magnitude—and our colleagues at other schools have watched to see how we’ve covered it.
This morning before heading to the airport I rented a GoCar for an hour-long jaunt. Below is a photo I took from the GoCar as I was about to descend the crooked section of Lombard Street:
The GoCar experience was a hoot; I highly recommend it. Actually, I pretty much recommend all of San Francisco.
See you back in State College.
Tina Hay, editor
I’m probably understating when I say that being a Penn Stater hasn’t been easy for the past nine months. So much sadness, so much anger, so much confusion. I haven’t spoken with anyone who doesn’t want things here to be better, but what “better” looks like—and how to make that happen—is still up in the air.
One of the things we’ve got to do is talk. Which is why we’re calling on sociology instructors Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey ’94g, whose SOC 119 (Race and Ethnic Relations) class is among the most popular on campus and whose World in Conversation program is devoted to fostering dialogue about difficult topics, to guide us.
We’d like you to join us for a live online event—Emerging from the Storm: Continuing the Conversation—from 8 to 9:30 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Sept. 12. You’ll be able to watch and hear Sam and Laurie as they grapple with the issues and questions, and you’ll be able to participate, too, by logging in with your Facebook or Twitter accounts, or simply by typing in the text box you’ll find at the website. No need to register.
What we want to do is build off our conversation with Sam and Laurie that’s in our September/October issue. (If you’ve not received it, you can download a PDF of the interview by clicking here.) Your participation is vital.
I’ve spent a lot of time around Sam and Laurie in the past year, first showing up unannounced to Sam’s SOC 119 class on Nov. 10, when he tweeted that he’d be talking about the scandal, then showing up invited a few times, then reporting on a story about World in Conversation for an upcoming issue of the magazine.
As anyone who’s taken the class knows, Sam and Laurie aren’t big on providing answers. They are big on asking questions, and doing so in such a way that you’re able to see other perspectives, other points of view. With all of the complexities in the Sandusky scandal, it was natural to call on them to be a part of our latest issue, in which we continue to try to make sense of and pull lessons from everything that’s happened in the past nine months.
We’re confident they’ll make the online event a safe place to talk with other Penn Staters who are still hurting for the victims, yet angry at how our community has been portrayed nationally. We’re confident the conversation will make you think, too. We know there’s a lot of anger out there, but we want very much to keep this conversation calm and civil.
So here’s an opportunity for Penn Staters to talk together, among ourselves. Save this website, livestream.com/pennstater, and join us anytime between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday the 12th, and submit your questions and comments live and in real time to participate. You can also submit your questions or comments here, and we’ll take them to Sam and Laurie next Wednesday.
We’re looking forward to talking with you.
Lori Shontz, senior editor