July 24, 2012

Things-to-Talk-About-Tuesday: My alma mater

*Today, I was going to talk about Game of Thrones and how awesome it is.  But something else is really on my heart and in my mind instead.
I consider this to be a post in which I may lose readers.  
I'm not trying to make enemies, but none of us are fans of bloggers who misrepresent themselves.  
This is me representing myself.*

I went to Penn State Altoona.  It's the largest branch campus of Penn State University.  Both Altoona and State College (the University Park campus) are within 40 minutes of my parents' house and the tiny town I grew up in.

(In case you're curious, my reason for attending the Altoona campus was:  I knew I was going to be a teacher.  I knew I wanted to do my student-teaching close to home.  At Altoona, I could do that.  Financially, this saved me a lot of money.  I don't regret it.)

I'm a teacher.  I'm a human being.  Therefore, I think what happened to those children in the 2nd Mile program was atrocious.  Jerry Sandusky should be locked away for the rest of his life and God can judge him at the end of that.  I'm sure no one out there disagrees with this statement.  Those involved in the cover-up?  Punish them.  Do it.  They need to be punished.  I don't care how.  Just punish them.

My elementary school participated in the 2nd Mile program.  We got Penn State trading cards in gym class.    We all collected those cards and traded them with each other.  I still have mine, somewhere, I'm sure.  The gymnasts and football players were my favorites.  We all aspired to be those athletes.  Everyone loved Penn State!  At school, we took field trips there.  We went to the Creamery for ice cream.  When they won the Rose Bowl in 1995?  I was in 3rd grade and remember the hoopla clearly.

Saturdays in the fall revolved around "when's the game?".  Traffic would back up for hours, the whole way to Harrisburg.  You couldn't go to State College to eat or shop on game days because it was so crowded.

I like to think that I met my husband because of Penn State.  While we didn't meet there, we attended the same campus for 2 years (who knows how many times we saw each other on that campus).  We figured out that we actually had an Art History class together.
If he hadn't attended Penn State, and had taken a baseball scholarship to a different school, he never would've moved to my town.  I never would've met him.
Our first date was at a Mexican restaurant on campus.  I'm pretty sure I smelled like tequila for two days after those Mad Mex margaritas.

When we went back to PA last fall, we stocked up on PSU gear at McLanahan's and The Family Clothesline.  We went to a football game.  The game that would be JoePa's last at Beaver Stadium.  Dear Lord, was it a miserable, wet, cold experience!  I hated every second of it!  There was a freak snowstorm.  It was awful.  We did win, though.

Those Illinois fans in front of us were really bad sports.  

While my simple opinion may or may not matter to you, I must say that if you condemn an entire institution over the acts of a few, I think you are wrong.

I hate to tell you this, but there are a lot of sucky people in the military (seriously, I've met some of them and they suck).  Does that mean that the entire U.S. military is bad?  I don't think so.

I think that the people condemning Penn State don't realize that they're not just blaming these horrible men; they're blaming an entire community for something the community had no control over.

I've had hate directed at me just for voicing my opinion as an alumni.  Apparently I'm to be ashamed that I went to a university where this happened.  Sorry, folks.  I'm not.  As one person so eloquently put it, "obviously" I've never had "a child molested by Jerry Sandusky".  Umm, no?  I haven't (and neither have you).  Should I apologize for that?

I feel awful for the current students and the faculty.  They're being targeted by the entire world for something they didn't do.

And to punish the football program?  I get it.  That's the first reaction of most people.  Nip it in the bud and stop the problem where it started.

But man, those football players, who've probably waited their entire lives to play for Penn State, had nothing to do with it.  More kids are just being punished this way.

While you will not hear me defend the men who committed these acts, you will never hear me say anything bad about the institution as a whole.

I am still proud to say I went to Penn State.  
I just really need you to know that.


  1. I don't think anyone should feel ashamed or make anyone feel ashamed they went there. Like you said, people in the military do shitty things all the time and rarely is there the shaming going on. It is a great college to go to with or without the football team.

    That being said,
    This was always going to hurt more people then just those responsible. It's not fair at all. But, people should've thought of that before haboring a child rapist. They lead those players on to the field under a false sense of integrity, dignity and moarality which to me is more unfair then the sanctions. The penalties against the team hurts them hard but I would be interested to hear what hurt the players more: Believing in people who didn't deserve their trust or having to figure out school without the scholarship? The NCAA has offered Penn State players their scholarships at any other school but who knows if they'll take that deal since they are so loyal to the program. As a person who had no scholarships, I know it is not easy to fund college...it would just be interesting to talk to them about it.

    I do hope that people will step up to make more donations to the school so that the revenue lost isn't felt as hard. Penn State seems to be taking it in stride but it must be unnerving to know they are losing so much money and respect.

    I also hope you personally experience more grace from people in general. People suck sometimes.


  2. I think this is so well written. I did not attend a big university where football was so popular so in that way I can't relate but I wonder why the whole school should suffer. The people involved, those who helped cover it up should absolutely be punished but these young kids who worked hard are being impacted. Taking away all their wins doesn't make sense to me. Your punishing the players who had no knowledge of this.

    I hope in the end that the victims,the school and community all can heal from this.

  3. Amen. You said this perfectly; this is an awesome post. Because HE was the problem and the people who covered it up were the problem. The school, the kids, they are just there to do what they've always wanted: get an education, play football, grow up. I'm glad you wrote this Kristin - I don't understand the people that condemn the university for something a few did.

  4. I don't think this could have been written any better. I very much agree with what you said. Let me also add that I am NOT: a Penn State fan or alum. I wanted nothing to do with Penn State when it was my time to go to college.

    That being said, I do not think Penn State alums or current students should be ashamed of their school. Their SCHOOL didn't do anything wrong. Men who were a part of the school community did terrible things. It is them who should be punished. I totally agree that it is unfair to punish the current players (and through this, all other Penn State sports) because of the horrid actions of Jerry Sandusky and the men who did not put a stop to it. I really don't see how that punishment "fits the crime." Innocent lives were ruined by Jerry Sandusky's sickening abuse, and now the cycle continues by potentially ruining the futures of some of Penn State's students, as well as negative repercussions on the State College community.

    I can assure you that you will not be losing me as a reader, and if anyone does stop reading/following your blog for stating your opinion, well, I'm pretty sure you didn't want them reading anyway! :)

  5. I agree with everything you have written. A horrible man did a horrible thing, and if anyone else knew and did nothing that was horrible of THEM not horrible of Penn State. I think your military example was such a good one too and one that personally gets me really riled up. Because there are bad people in the military who get in the news and suddenly it's the whole military who is awful, when the majority of our military is genuinely good and hardworking people. It's awful when the actions of a few ruin it for everyone else.

  6. GREAT post! I completely agree that an institution (no matter what kind or how big) should never be punished as a whole for the acts of a few.

    You SHOULD be proud! :)

  7. I'm from the UK and haven't heard about what has happened but from your post I can guess. It is not right at all to punish a whole community for the actions of others, you're very right to speak out about this and I admire that you have. I'm also going to be a teacher :)

  8. I am with you. When did we decided to blanket everyone associated with an individual's poor choices as bad? I feel the same way about this chick fil a drama which is in no way as bad as what happened at Penn State, but people's reaction to it is crazy. Now every sandwich is a homophobe? Get it together people.

    Very well written post, thanks for sharing your perspective!


    1. How did I never get to your blog before?!
    2. My husband went to Altoona for 2 years, then did 2 years at Main. When did you graduate?!?!
    3. Where do your parents live?!
    4. Dave (my husband) was at the same game as you last year. We both went to the first game without Paterno.
    5. Girl you know I feel the same about all of this as you do. Thank goodness I found an ally blogger. :)

    HOW DID I NOT KNOW YOU WERE A PENN STATER?!?! I'm a terrible blogger friend. :)

  10. Wow! How have I not read this post sooner? You said everything PERFECTLY! I feel the EXACT same way! I had a person remove me as a friend on Facebook because of something I posted regarding this whole situation. My husband had to go up to the campus during the riots, and he had bottles of urine and insults thrown at him, among other things. It was an awful situation. I wrote a post saying how disappointed I was in the students' reactions which were putting my husband's and others' lives in danger, and this person removed me because she felt that those students were justified in behaving badly because the person they were rioting about was "like family to her." Ridiculous.

    I agree with you. I am proud of my campus and my college experience. I am not proud of the way some of my fellow students behaved, and I am certainly not proud of the way all of these people in this scandal behaved, but THEY are NOT Penn State... WE ARE!


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