Penn State: Those Who Do Not Learn From Their Mistakes

For a school that once had a pretty great reputation, Penn State University is reeling these days.  It’s been in the news lately because during a fraternity hazing, during that yaba-daba-doo-time for everyone but the hazees, a frat member wannabe semi-voluntarily drank an ungodly amount of alcohol (later tests would put his blood alcohol content somewhere between 0.28 and 0.36 percent), fell down a flight of stairs, was carried back up those stairs, had water poured over his head several times in an attempt to revive him, had his face slapped by someone attempting to revive him, was punched in the stomach by someone attempting to revive him, tried to stand but fell face first onto a wooden floor, got up and fell down three more steps, was fallen on and struck several times, bled a lot, and eventually died.  Until the very end, when his “brothers” finally called for help, there was just one – only one – fraternity brother who wanted to call for help but he was thrown against a wall by one of his “brothers” and told to leave because he was a spoilsport and a nancy boy and apparently didn’t know how to party with the big boys.  The courts are sorting this out now:  eight of the revelers are on trial for manslaughter and ten others face charges.

It’s not pretty.

Penn State, of course, is where, just a few years ago, university officials permitted one of their football coaches, and after his coaching career ended just a guy who had free run of the campus, to molest young boys whenever he wished.  University officials knew about it, the university’s president knew about, and the university’s legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, knew about it.  Did any of them do anything about it?  No, they chose to look the other way because acting on what they knew might’ve jeopardized the success of the school’s extremely lucrative football program and at Penn State, apparently nothing is more important than the lucrative football program.  To date, Penn State has spent more than $200 million on fines and financial settlements with those whose trust it abused during this nightmare.

Among the university’s biggest defenders during this crisis, and certainly coach Paterno’s biggest defender, has been his son, Jay Paterno.  He has been outspoken in his father’s defense, as any good son might be, outspoken in the university’s defense, outspoken in his defense of the indefensible.

Penn State has this interesting practice of permitting its alumni to elect some members of the school’s board of trustees.  Recently, those alumni did something of epic stupidity:  they elected Jay Paterno to their alma mater’s board of trustees, to serve on the same body that fired his father.  The same body he has been railing against ever since it did that, as if his father’s legacy was more important than the at least ten boys his father’s assistant coach molested over the years.

Jay Paterno, it’s only fair to note, is far from alone in believing that his father, and the university, were innocent bystanders in this mess as a member of their community in good standing had his way with defenseless little boys.  Significant numbers of Penn State alumni vociferously insist that the university is as innocent a victim as the little boys and unfairly maligned.  One trustee, as The Curmudgeon wrote a little while back, told a newspaper he was tired of hearing about those victims.  (Note:  he’s now a former trustee.)

Is inviting this fox into the hen house stupidity on a grand scale or what?

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  • city4357  On May 20, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Now you’re blaming all of Penn State for the fraternity?

    The fraternity was a group of adult frat members. The pledge was an adult frat pledge. All of these individuals knowingly decided to break Penn State hazing and underage drinking rules in their house that is owned by the fraternity, not PSU.

    There is no factual evidence to support any claim Paterno knew before 2001. The police and district attorney investigated Sandusky in 1998, his has year of being a coach at PSU, and found nothing.

    Of course Paterno knew about Sandusky. In 2001, as he said. He reported the ’01 alleged incident, that someone else saw, to his boss. Paterno didn’t witness anything. That’s then on the AD, VP, and President to decide what to do. That was legal.

    Sandusky was not an employee at that time, so President Spanier informed Sandusky’s employer the Second Mile that there was an incident to look into. The Second Mile, actual mandatory reporters unlike those at PSU, decided not to do so.

    Jay Paterno’s defense of his Dad is indefensible? When did defending someone that followed the law become indefensible?

    The stupidity here is this article, which is a sad reflection of the media brainwashing that the general public has received about this over the years. Everything I’m saying here is back in fact, but your sad reaction will be that I’m some Paterno apologist or that it’s proof of a cult and that my comment is a lie.

    No, it’s not. The reality is that the general public has bought into this ridiculous false media narrative that seems to turn sane people like yourselves into far fringe ends of the autism spectrum.

    Answer these honestly and then consider how manufactured your faux-rage actually is:

    Is this the first frat pledging death ever that appeared to have idiot frat boys causing it and trying to cover it up? No, Clemson and Barcuh College has the same kind of deaths. Did you hear the media coverage for those?

    In a sane world would you believe someone coming forward as part of a lawsuit suing for millions of dollars and accusing a dead man with no evidence as solid proof? That’s what the 70s and 80s claims are. They were claims made anonymously by a man that conveniently waited 40 years and started the proceedings just after Paterno died to accuse him and then used these claims to sue the school and settle for millions. Who would contradict him? The man he’s accusing is dead.

    In a sane world, would you accept the story of MQueary. The guy changed his story four times. He initially said he didn’t see any sexual intercourse at all. He just felt, correctly, that the situation was inappropriate.

    All of these things are reality, yet the media got crusaders like you so whipped up that you want to believe anything at this point. In your eyes PSU is evil, so each little bit (regardless of how actually credible or if it is common at other places) is just further proof.

    We saw the media brainwashing in the election, and it was the same with this PSU story before that. You’re a sad example of the product of that.

  • foureyedcurmudgeon  On May 21, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    I am not going to relitigate the facts of these two cases but I would like to offer a few brief observations.

    First, nowhere do I condemn the entire university. I do observe that the university is reeling a bit these days, and this is clearly true.

    Second, you can’t absolve the university of responsibility for university-sanctioned fraternities. Fraternities have cultures and Penn State, like most universities, tolerates those cultures. At times they pay a serious price for doing so, and this is one of those times. The party culture for which Penn State is so well known doesn’t help. And yes, when things like this happen at other universities, they, too, receive media attention – the better known the university and the more recent its troubles in other areas, the greater the attention. A school can’t cry out and cry out and cry out for media attention constantly over so many years and then selectively criticize receiving the media attention it craves. You have to take the bad with the good.

    Third, I have never heard the word “cult” used in the context of support for a university – not even a place like Alabama. That seems more like your description than mine; maybe you have an even lower opinion of Penn State, its alumni, and its fans than many others.

    Fourth, I in no way see you as an apologist. You’re not apologizing for Joe Paterno at all. To the contrary, you believe he did no wrong. Like many others, I disagree, but you’re as entitled to your opinion – as I am to mine.

    Fifth, Penn State has not paid out nearly a quarter billion dollars in settlements because it did no wrong and everyone has misinterpreted what happened. That’s not the way things work. As a long-time Pennsylvania taxpayer, moreover, some of that money is mine – mine, my family’s, my friends and family members who attended Penn State, and my co-workers in the Pennsylvania-based company for which I work.

    Sixth, as much as I disagree with Jay Paterno’s words and think his election to the Penn State board of trustees is a mistake, I gave him a pass for his defense of his father. Reread that, please: a son must be given that latitude, and I made a point of giving it to Paterno.

    Seventh, I’m not a crusader. Go through this blog: I’ve written about Penn State and these two problems maybe three times. Three mentions in 1600 blog pieces over six years does not constitute a crusade.

    And eighth, and the only real reason I’m responding to you directly, because I generally like my readers to feel they can have their say without concern that they will be initiating an unpleasant back and forth, is that my stepson is on the autism spectrum of which you write, and let me tell you something about him. He is challenging yet delightful, distant yet lovable, inquisitive and open-minded, sometimes clueless yet amazingly perceptive about people and emotions and public events. Academically he’s a top-flight student in one of the best high schools in New Jersey, and never in a million years would he stoop to such cruel words about something he knows nothing about. Ultimately, he is kind – kind in a way that your words about something you obviously don’t understand suggest that you are not.

    Thanks for reading.

  • city4357  On May 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I notice that you didn’t actually address any of the factual basis of my post. You made more appeals with blind emotion to a lowest common denominator of reader that would be swayed by them.

    First, you say the University is reeling and that this is another hit to the reputation. PSU still has a great reputation, and your implication that some drunk frat adults impacts that the essence of your problem. It doesn’t. They were adults that chose to break the rules.

    Second, yes, you can when the fraternity has an unsanctioned event that knowingly breaks University rules regarding hazing and takes place on a private residence not controlled by the university. This really isn’t even a reach. It’s common sense, and you trying to make it into a way to blame the university kind of reiterates my belief that you’re just looking to blame PSU.

    Third, well then at least we agree on one point.

    Fourth, you’re exactly right. People never charged with crimes don’t need defending. We have a legal system designed where guilty people need lawyers to defend them, and a legal system to determine guilt. Paterno wasn’t charged, so he’s not guilty of anything. And there’s nothing to say he would be now if alive, so that doesn’t change the situation either. That really only leaves your individual ideas of right and wrong in the world, which of course we don’t operate under. You speak for yourself. Not many others. And I don’t think someone following the law is wrong. Anyone passing judgment of right and wrong on those that don’t automatically shows to me that they’re not fit to play morality judge.

    Fifth, I stopped reading at this point where you implied PSU making settlements was proof that the University did something wrong. A settlement is exactly the opposite, as it is not an admission of guilt (That’s just a google search away). You obviously do not know how the way things work in the world, as companies will make settlements in a crisis in order to move forward as quickly as possible. The claims weren’t investigated, which of course just let people collect without any evidence to support claims. Do I think they all should have been made without investigating? No, I don’t. But the university did what any company did in the real world. They used a cost/risk analysis chart based on potential losses in a trial and then just wrote checks based on the number. That doesn’t mean the University did/did not do anything wrong, but the number was to avoid the risk of having to address that issue. That’s actually how the real world works. You get no more say in that as a taxpayer than you get a say in the vote for the national healthcare bill. Being a taxpayer doesn’t make you a legal expert on risk. You just get a say in the voting of politicians that then get a say. Stick to the blog.

    You appear to deal in your idea of right/wrong and emotion and generalized blame, while I deal in laws, facts, and reason. We just have two different approaches to a situation, which is fine. Anyway, that’s all for me. I felt my first response set out some key facts disputing your claims, and I didn’t see anything in your response that could dispute those. So, I’m done. I’m sure your blog is fine overall, though, but I’ll admit I hadn’t read anything else. Good luck.

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