Circumstances force me to address the firestorm surrounding the football division of Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA, in which football coach Jerry Sandusky was caught anally violating a ten year old boy in the showers, and many members of the Penn State community, including legendary head coach, Joe Paterno, were implicated in the scandal. Some have been charged with perjury; others, such as Paterno, have been dismissed.
I am currently dismayed at the events that happened in the minutes and hours after Paterno’s firing, when Penn State “students” (keep in mind, Penn State is famous for being a pro-football training camp with an attached diploma mill) started rioting and flipping over news vans and destroying everything around them. A few lone voices in the wilderness existed, however, my faith in the youth of the nation has taken a hit from the events that night.
This makes me think about how safe Penn State is for women and LGBTIQ people, as well as those who don’t fit the “jock” stereotype. If people manage to riot over a head coach rightfully being fired for IGNORING THE SEX ABUSE OF A CHILD, it says something about the character of the campus, and makes me question whether if a football player sexually assaulted someone on the campus, it would be swept under the rug, if not the victim being tarred and feathered for knocking the perpetrator off his pedestal and potentially costing the school some championship. I’m not one to make assumptions, but it is more likely than not if investigators looked into disciplinary proceedings at the school, there’d be at least something fishy.
To the rioters: SHAME ON YOU. People have had to take out huge amounts of loans just to attend an institution that, even with these tuition increases, is still suffering from the austerity addiction of some elected officials, but instead of rioting against injustice, you riot because your head coach is no more. What about the victims here? Did you not think of them as you were causing wanton destruction in the name of your tainted idol.
Although I can’t say all the rioters will become rapists, their mentality indicates that many will be.
The actions of the rioters are especially triggering for me, having survived sexual assault at the hands of my old boarding school, which, sadly but not surprisingly, was sued over the summer over another sexual assault. The suit, which is linked on a Scribd account, states (line 86), that the mother “asked if there was any written protocol regarding how the school handled sexual assaults, [headmaster] Richard Chorney responded that there had never been a prior sexual assault at the school, so there had been no call for such a policy.” This was in June 2010, almost two years after they knew I was assaulted there. Even though the investigation never led anywhere, it still is damning that they did not at least cover their bases and have a more concrete policy to protect students. My old boarding school and Penn State are not the first entities to sweep abuse under the rug, and sadly, I doubt they will be the last.
These are very unhappy times in Happy Valley, and I think Penn State needs to be shut down. I don’t care about the fact that the students rioted per se, but the fact that they would riot in favor of someone who covers up sex crimes does not give me hope and leads me to believe that the rape culture is more prevalent than usual there.
Please keep those who have suffered under Jerry Sandusky in your thoughts and please think about whether Penn State is a safe place to be.