Needless to say, Penn State students, alumni, faculty, and fans were heartbroken this weekend after news of a child abuse scandal within the athletic department captured headlines around the country. In a matter of minutes, our spotless record of honesty and integrity was overshadowed by unforgivable crimes, arrests, and perjury.
I’m fairly certain that I speak for every student, alum, faculty and staff member of Penn State when I say that the actions (and subsequent inactions) of every individual involved in this indignity were absolutely unacceptable, and they deserve the most severe punishments. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and families involved. But in the midst of a crisis at Penn State, Nittany Lions everywhere are faced with an opportunity.
It’s easy to stand by Penn State through winning touchdowns and championships, but this moment is a true test of what it means to bleed blue and white. It’s the difference between just mouthing the words to our Alma Mater at football games, and actually upholding these ideals in our everyday lives.
In the midst of allegations, arrests, and resignations, many have taken comfort from those words. While clearly these individuals did not uphold our seemingly simple plea “May no act of ours bring shame,” many students are forgetting to look to the next line, “To one heart that loves thy name”.
To the hundreds of thousands of students, alumni, and fans around the world, I say this: be angry. I say be mad, hold a grudge forever, be heartbroken. I know I am. But, please, be angry at the individuals involved, not the previously pristine institution that is responsible for countless of our best memories, raises millions of dollars for pediatric cancer, and is home to hardworking students and the amazing professors who guide them.
Students and alumni who are willing to sacrifice any amount of respect, pride, and love for the Penn State name over the disgusting actions of a few individuals associated with our school, clearly had no loyalty to dear old State in the first place.
The most important thing to remember now is that WE are Penn State. We, the students, are the true make-up of this university. We are not just a football team. We are not just a few deplorable administrators. We are not a student body that supports wrongdoing within our system. And although it may not seem like it right now, WE are in charge of Penn State’s reputation.
We are at a crossroads now in our time as students. We can lose faith in our beloved Penn State, succumb to a place of hatred over the action of a single individual. Or, we can choose to rise above it. We can show our true loyalty to our school. We can show what it really means when we say WE ARE…PENN STATE.
WE ARE…the home of the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. WE ARE…responsible for raising $78 million for the Four Diamonds Fund. WE ARE…the largest alumni base in the world. WE ARE… a top research institution. WE ARE…so much more than this.
Now’s the time to support Penn State and stand by the institution that we all respected enough to entrust with our futures. It’s our chance to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and behave in a way that brings no shame to our beloved university. Whether you sing the Alma Mater just a little louder this Saturday or you simply wear your favorite Penn State t-shirt with as much pride as you did before, today marks the beginning of a true opportunity to show the world what our endless pride is all about.
WE ARE…PENN STATE, and we will not let this scandal redefine 156 years of hard work, philanthropy, pride and tradition.
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