Joe Paterno isn’t the only one at Penn State who’s been getting a lot of bad press lately. From the moment they allowed an understandably emotional rally in favor of JoePa to turn violent, the students at PSU have been getting a bum rap. I’ve received emails from holier-than-thou observers who say they’d never send their children to ‘that school,’ comments online have indicated the extent to which philly.com readers are able to smear whole groups with one brush, and national commentators have wrung their hands wondering what they put in the water at Happy Valley.
If attacking Paterno is unfair, and you already know how I feel about that, making the Penn State student body responsible for the administration’s alleged transgressions is reprehensible. The overwhelming majority of the people who go to our major state university are people of intelligence and integrity. In fact, there is something quite touching in the loyalty the alumni and current student body have exhibited with respect to their alma mater, something poignant in their attachment to place and person.
It’s exemplified by Franco Harris, someone who reached the heights of professional glory and yet still keeps part of his heart-and honor-in Happy Valley.
It’s demonstrated by the candlelight vigil the current student body held to remember the victims of child abuse.
It’s obvious in the devastation so many have expressed about the injury to their school’s national reputation, and the scars it will most likely bear.
And I think it’s most beautifully confirmed in the work that the PSU kids do on behalf of pediatric cancer patients through their charity known as THON, the Penn State IFC Pan Hellenic Dance Marathon. These students have raised more than 78 million dollars over the charity’s three decades of existence, money which has served…wait for this…children.
So the next time that someone makes a snide comment about the culture of abuse at Penn State and writes articles that depict them as ravaging savages (at this paper and elsewhere) why not think about sending a donation to THON.
Just a small step, but anything that combats ignorance-and arrogance-is worthwhile. Because it’s better to light one candle, than curse the darkness.