Paterno Firing Shakes Penn State
The firing of legendary Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno Wednesday night amid allegations that he and other school officials turned a blind eye to the actions of former assistant football coach and alleged pedophile Jerry Sandusky has forced university students and alumni to reconcile the coach’s 45 year tenure with his tainted departure.
Shocked by the high profile firing, some have taken the opportunity to revisit their pride in Penn State. Nittany Lions dominate the Facebook profile pictures of many Penn State students, alumni and fans who grew up viewing Paterno as a symbol for the university.
The Christian Science Monitor elaborated on the importance of Paterno to the university:
It is hard to overstate what Paterno meant to Penn State and Pennsylvania, local residents said. Before the scandal, many would have suggested he was the most influential and admired person in the state of Pennsylvania.
Generations of Penn State graduates grew up with "JoePa" and his football machine, which for 46 years brought championships and pride to the university tucked away in the Nittany Mountains of central Pennsylvania.
A more extreme display of Penn State pride found its way outside administration buildings as well as the lawn of Paterno’s house the night of his firing, when thousands of students rioted in disgust for what they saw as Paterno being made a “fall guy” for Sandusky’s alleged crimes.
As reported by the New York Times:
The scandal, and the fallout from it, has left Penn State’s normally placid campus in a state of shock. Scores of students poured into the streets downtown in the immediate aftermath of the news conference. Many held up cellphones to take pictures and others blew vuvuzelas and air horns. A few climbed lampposts, tried to topple street signs and knocked over trash cans. Others set off firecrackers from the roofs of buildings, and a television news truck was flipped on its side. A lamppost was torn down and police pepper-sprayed some in the crowd.
Yet university pride wasn’t the only issue. While university officials may have turned a blind eye to child abuse, the sacking of “JoePa,” as Paterno is known affectionately by his fans, has made the issue of rape and assault impossible to ignore for Penn State students and alumni.
The Daily Collegian, a student-run publication at the university, reports that the website “Proud To Be A Penn Stater” has raised more than $98,000 after its launch. The students and alumni running the website say that they are working with anti-sexual assault organization RAINN and plan to use funds to both “stand up for the victims of abuse and help Penn Staters get their pride back.”
Meanwhile, The Christian Science Monitor reports that Penn Staters plan to wear blue at their next football game, in support of victims of child abuse:
Normally, Penn State football fans wear white to games to create a "white out" effect in the stands. At Saturday's game, fans plan a "Blue Out," and money raised by selling blue T-shirts will go to Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania.
Despite saying that he would resign at the end of the season, Paterno, 84, was nevertheless fired by Penn State’s Board of Trustees Wednesday along with university president Graham B. Spanier.
Many have criticized university officials, particularly Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley, and senior vice president for finance and business Gary Shultz, for failing to notify the police of Sandusky despite knowing (and in some case witnessing) that the assistant coach was abusing underage boys in Penn State locker rooms.
On Friday, The Guardian called for the university to forfeit their season and accused students rallying behind Paterno of making the same mistake that university officials made by putting “football before children”:
The solution here is to make a powerful statement in support of academics and integrity. And that statement would be to end the season of the Nittany Lions, who, at 8-1, are ranked 12 in the nation and have Rose Bowl hopes. That would demonstrate loud and clear that football, after all, is just a game.
Back to Sandusky, Pennsylvania State Police have said they have received more calls from people claiming to have been victims of the former assistant coach’s exploits.
The Daily Beast ran an article that mused whether Sandusky could qualify for chemical castration:
The ickiness of this issue makes it a tough one for many people to discuss, which is a shame. Because, with certain breeds of offenders—including those driven to commit the atrocities of which Sandusky stands accused—there is a fair amount of data suggesting that such treatment can be useful not only in protecting children but also in helping save such offenders from themselves.
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