Penn State Removes Paterno Statue

Earlier this morning, equipment and a construction crew arrived at Beaver Stadium to remove the statue of Joe Paterno. For the first time since it was put into place in 2001, the image of Joe Paterno leading the Nittany Lions onto the field is no longer there. Penn State president, Rodney Erickson, released the following statement describing the rationale for the statue’s removal and the continuation of Paterno’s name on the University Library.

“Since we learned of the Grand Jury presentment and the charges against Jerry Sandusky and University officials last November, members of the Penn State community and the public have been made much more acutely aware of the tragedy of child sexual abuse. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those victims of Mr. Sandusky and all other victims of child abuse. I assure you that Penn State will take a national leadership role in the detection and prevention of child maltreatment in the months and years ahead.

With the release of Judge Freeh’s Report of the Special Investigative Counsel, we as a community have had to confront a failure of leadership at many levels. The statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium has become a lightning rod of controversy and national debate, including the role of big time sports in university life. The Freeh Report has given us a great deal to reflect upon and to consider, including Coach Paterno’s legacy.

Throughout Penn State, the two most visible memorials to Coach Paterno are the statue at Beaver Stadium and the Paterno Library. The future of these two landmarks has been the topic of heated debate and many messages have been received in various University offices, including my own. We have heard from numerous segments of the Penn State community and others, many of whom have differing opinions. These are particularly important decisions when considering things that memorialize such a revered figure.

I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.

On the other hand, the Paterno Library symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made to Penn State University. The library remains a tribute to Joe and Sue Paterno’s commitment to Penn State’s student body and academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts Coach Paterno had on the University. Thus I feel strongly that the library’s name should remain unchanged.

Coach Paterno’s positive impact over the years and everything he did for this University predate his statue. At the same time it is true that our institution’s excellence cannot be attributed to any one person or to athletics. Rather, Penn State is defined by our actions and accomplishments as a learning community. Penn State has long been an outstanding academic institution and we will continue to be.

The world will be watching how Penn State addresses its challenges in the days ahead. While some may take issue with the decisions I have made, I trust that everyone associated with our University will respond in a civil and respectful manner.

I fully realize that my decision will not be popular in some Penn State circles, but I am certain it is the right and principled decision. I believe we have chosen a course that both recognizes the many contributions that Joe Paterno made to the academic life of our University, while taking seriously the conclusions of the Freeh Report and the national issue of child sexual abuse. Today, as every day, our hearts go out to the victims.”

[box type=”shadow”]Photo credit, Kristin Camplese[/box]

Sexual Abuse Q&A with Bloomsburg University

Dr. David SoltzGiven recent events at Penn State, we felt it might be helpful to talk with Bloomsburg University officials to discuss the policies and procedures related to sexual abuse on campus.  President Soltz issued a statement several days after the events at Penn State transpired which encouraged those in the university community to alert authorities about potential sexual abuse that may be occurring on campus.  However, we wanted to dig a little deeper in order to discuss what training and procedures are in place behind the scenes and what the requirements for reporting are for university police.  In addition, given that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexual abuse victims, we wanted to find out what types of resources Bloomsburg University provides for those impacted by sexual abuse.

We read your statement about defining the process for reporting potential sexual abuse cases, with people encouraged to go directly to university police.  What compelled you to make the statement?

With the recent headlines, this was a good time to review BU’s current policy as well as remind the campus community of the proper protocol.

You encourage anyone in the university to notify campus police if they have reason to believe there is abuse going on.  That is fantastic, but on the other side, what are you telling campus police? Are there training or sensitivity programs going on there to help them deal with any potential cases?  Are they equipped to respond?

BU takes a team approach in addressing cases of sexual abuse / sexual harassment. Our campus police are part of that team. Within the last three weeks, the team attended a training session on this topic. Additionally, BU hosted a two-day workshop on how to conduct investigations involving sexual assault/sexual harassment cases. The university also consults with PASSHE (Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education) legal counsel on a regular basis to ensure we are handling cases of this nature in an appropriate manner.

With regard to campus police, what is their reporting role/process to town or state police?  If a case of abuse is brought forward, are they legally obligated to share that information?

If a crime is reported on campus, it is in the jurisdiction of Bloomsburg University Safety and Police Department. BU Police will investigate, consult with the DA and file charges. Like our counterparts, Bloomsburg Town Police, we submit a unified crime report monthly to the State Police.

Clearly in the case of Jerry Sandusky, people were potentially incredulous — when faced with rumors and potential incidents –because he was thought to be such a good, upstanding person who had such high standing. And with 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men sexually abused at some point in their life, this is probably going on in every town and on every campus across the country.  How do we convey to the university community that anyone can be a victim and anyone can be a perpetrator?

There’s information on the University Web site regarding sexual assault/sexual harassment. (http://www.bloomu.edu/Title_IX) Educational information is emailed and posted around campus detailing how to report allegations of sexual assault / sexual abuse. (http://www.bloomu.edu/wrc)

What resources do you have on campus for sexual abuse victims?

In addition to the BU Police, the team includes representatives from the Office of Social Equity, Women’s Resource Center, University Counseling Services, Residence Life and the Office of Student Standards. When an incident is reported, the Title IX coordinator is obligated to coordinate services with all of the offices involved. This ensures our police are notified and involved immediately. Additionally, if a student is harmed, residence life and the counseling services are on hand to provide support and resources. It’s important to note the Women’s Resource Center is readily available to assist any individual who has been a victim of sexual assault or abuse.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on gender in educational programs which receive federal financial assistance. Programs and activities which may be included are: academic programs, admissions, athletics, employment and recruitment, financial aid and university housing.

Title IX clearly prohibits sexual harassment which includes sexual assault and violence.

Candlelight Vigil Held for Victims of Sexual Abuse at Penn State

Old Main VigilA candlelight vigil was held on the steps of Old Main Friday night to show support for the victims of sexual abuse, alleged to have been committed by former Penn State Football Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky. This event, organized by students to show support for the abused children, was in memory of and in recognition of these horrible acts. An estimated 10,000 people attended.

The feeling at Old Main was very somber, as thousands of faculty, staff, students, community members, and visitors packed the typically huge open space to attempt to begin to come to terms with the events of the week. Several speakers spent time talking about what this week has meant to them and the community, but their words always returned to the need to focus on the victims of abuse. A student read an anonymous letter written by a fellow student who was a victim of sexual abuse. She concluded the letter by saying that she was “standing somewhere in the crowd, somewhere next to you.” She challenged the crowd to look closely and work to discover cases of abuse and to act.

Former Penn State All-American football player, LaVar Arrington told the crowd to use these events as a challenge. “Let it be known that we waged war to make a difference,” Arrington said. “Leave here tonight with a resolve and an understanding that you possess the power to change things.”

Penn State senior and organizer Jessica Sever said she felt as though something needed to be done to put the focus back on the victims, not President Spanier or Joe Paterno. “What I really want to focus on is the victims right now,” Sever said. “We really need some positivity, because there is none right here.”

Following the speakers, the Old Main Bell rang 10 P.M. and the crowd joined in a moment of silence. The silence of the evening was interrupted only twice. The first when the crowd locked arms and sang the School’s Alma Mater. The second was an explosive series of, “We Are … Penn State” chants that ended moments later with just a chant of “Penn State.”

Over the past week the reactions of the Penn State and State College communities has been a raw mixture of shock, anger, violence, sadness, disbelief and reflection. This candlelight vigil seemed to be the beginning of new direction for the students of Penn State, one of recognition and resolve.

In support of the sexual abuse victims of this tragedy, and all victims everywhere, the Penn State Community around the world has, as of this posting, donated $238,000 to RAINN. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. This is a grassroots effort and the total donated to date represents the sum total of individual spontaneous donations contributed through #ProudPSUforRAINN

Portions of this report were taken from Onward State. Onward State, is a student-written independent online news source for the Penn State community. The Bloomsburg Daily thanks Onward State for their kind partnership and permission to repost their content.

McQueary on Administrative Leave and Other Penn State Updates

On to the FieldAccording to Onward State, “President Rodney Erickson has placed assistant coach Mike McQueary on paid, indefinite administrative leave. He will not coach or attend Saturday’s game against Nebraska.”

In other news, the Penn State nation began what is sure to be a slow healing process through several initiatives including Proud to Be a Penn Stater, which was raising $200 a minute for RAINN.org today, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.  In addition, the Friday pre-game pep rally was cancelled in favor of a candlelight vigil on the Old Main Lawn at 9:30 PM on Friday.  On Saturday for the game, fans have organized a “Blue Out” instead of the traditional “White Out” and are selling t-shirts with all proceeds going to Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania.

Governor Tom Corbett and Interim President Rodney Erickson both held press conferences this afternoon, following a meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees.  Corbett defended the termination of President Graham Spanier and Coach Joe Paterno, saying that “Their actions caused me to not have confidence in their ability to continue to lead.” He went on to urge Penn State students and fans to behave responsibly at the game against Nebraska on Saturday as emotions will still be raw, “The eyes of the nation are on you. They’re fixed on this campus … Please behave and demonstrate your pride in Penn State.”

In his press conference, Erickson issued a promise:

1. I will reinforce to the entire Penn State community the moral imperative of doing the right thing—the first time, every time.

  • We will revisit all standards, policies and programs to ensure they meet not only the law, but Penn State’s standard. To oversee this effort, I will appoint an Ethics Officer that will report directly to me.
  • I ask for the support of the entire Penn State community to work together to reorient our culture. Never again should anyone at Penn State feel scared to do the right thing. My door will always be open.

2. As I lead by example, I will expect no less of others.

  • I will ensure proper governance and oversight exists across the entire University, including Intercollegiate Athletics.

3. Penn State is committed to transparency to the fullest extent possible given the ongoing investigations.

  • I commit to providing meaningful and timely updates as frequently as needed.
  • I encourage dialogue with students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the Penn State Community.

4. We will be respectful and sensitive to the victims and their families. We will seek appropriate ways to foster healing and raise broader awareness of the issue of sexual abuse.

5. My administration will provide whatever resources, access and information is needed to support the Special Committee’s investigation. I pledge to take immediate action based on their findings.

May No Act of Ours Bring Shame: The Riot That Never Should Have Happened

PSU ReactionOnward State reporter Ryan Kristobak reflects of the terrible happenings in State College, PA on the night of 9-10 November. Ryan, a Junior at Penn State majoring in Print Journalism, is from Lebanon, Pennsylvania. His original article appears here.

The Bloomsburg Daily thanks Onward State for their kind partnership and permission to repost portions of their coverage of the events at Penn State.

It is difficult for me to put into words how I feel at this moment. Having been at the Board of Trustees press conference last night, I had heard rumors that Joe Paterno would not be permitted to coach the season’s concluding matches. I immediately feared that there would be a riot, but I could have never predicted what actually transpired.

Fulfilling my journalistic duties, I immediately took to Beaver Avenue to capture what was going on. I watched students flood onto the street, shouting “Fuck Sandusky,” “Fuck the police,” and “Fuck the media.” I watched students start fires, tear down signs, and pull down street lamps as students desperately retreated from their path of falling. I watched students throw rocks and other items at police and media, destroy every window of a media van and then tip it over, and get maced by police.

So, to those who participated in these acts, tell me, what exactly have you accomplished? Do you feel like you have justified all the wrongs that have come into light and occurred throughout this week? Have you brought honor to Joe Paterno and our university?

No, you have done the exact opposite.

First, let me say that I understand that you are all very angry. You have every right to be angry. The students, alumni, and faculty who had nothing to do with the Sandusky tragedy have acquired a reputation that none of us deserve. Certain members of our administration and community have proven to us that they have little care for the standards of which they hold us to. They have been slow to amend these crimes, and have certainly made little effort to communicate with us. But why have we let our anger be shown in such a reckless and violent manner?

We all get caught up in moments of passion, but if we are unable to take a moment to step back, and find a positive outlet, then we must not act. I understand that the student body wanted to make a point that the Board of Trustees decision to fire JoePa was not OK with us. However, all that we have done is null if we do not make a difference.

I believe tonight’s riot occurred because of a serious lack of education of what exactly occurred in the Sandusky case. While I do not want to jump to conclusions, I do not think it is too bold for me to say that the majority of students who participated in the aforementioned actions last night have not taken the time to read through, or give proper attention to the grand jury report, for if we all had, Joe Paterno would not have been our main focus this week.

Where has your fury been for the victims of Sandusky’s molestation? When it all comes down to it, this is not a Penn State issue, but a human issue. I will never be able to comprehend what these children went through, and the suffering that surely follows them to this day. The damage that this university has incurred is absolutely insignificant to that of the victims. Hell, we struggled to replace our “White Out” for a “Blue Out” in order to recognize and raise funds for the victims, and some are still unwilling to make this immeasurable sacrifice because it is their last game, or some other insensitive reasoning. The victims have been the most overlooked during this week, and we are just as at fault as the media and the administration.

Where is your passion for restructuring the administrative system that has permitted these children to suffer for over a decade? It is simply not enough to oust all of those who are responsible for this travesty. There are systemic problems with accountability and transparency inside our administration, and we have done nothing about this.

Do we even remember that this is all because of Jerry Sandusky?

I cannot fathom the lack of logic our student body displayed during this riot. Both Beaver Avenue and College Avenue are riddled with destruction, and no one seemed to care about the effect it would have on our community. State College does not just belong to Penn State, but to all who live here. If I were a parent living in State College, I would fear to ever let my child walk on the downtown streets again.

What was the purpose for destroying the WTAJ news van? A lot of people have been complaining that the media is only focusing on Joe Paterno, but is this so unreasonable when all of our actions have been centered around him? The students have provided the media with nothing else to cover, and so we cannot exclusively blame them for the light in which this whole situation has been portrayed to the world. Also, they are just doing their job. Sandusky was involved with the football program, and Joe Paterno, who represents everything Penn State football, was involved, so of course a good amount of attention is going to fall on him. This is nothing new. I am not justifying some of the reporting, but they did not deserve the response we gave them.

All this week, we have tried to convey the message to the world that Penn State is more than just football, but we have not proven that. As my close friend, and fellow Penn State student, Josh Branch put it: The whole country is watching how a university claims to be more than just “X,Y, and Z” then riots and destroys a town over, “X, Y, and Z.”

I want to state that I do not hate Joe Paterno. He has been the moral compass of this university for decades, and has more than helped fashion the image that people have respected for years. I do not believe he ever had any malicious intent, but JoePa admitted that he wishes he had done more in the situation, and understood that it was best that he step down. I cannot explain how sad I am that I will never get to see Joe coach another Penn State football game, and it is, in my opinion unfair, that he cannot even walk onto the pitch at Beaver Stadium one last time. But rioting was never the correct solution to addressing our dismay. To the few that peacefully congregated outside of Joe’s house, thank you. As evident by the video, the constant support from the student’s has helped him through these rough days. And what did JoePa have to say to those who came to his house? He told the students to go home and study. Rioters, if you think you made JoePa proud, you are sadly mistaken.

We have been worried about the unwarranted shame that Sandusky and those involved has brought to Penn State, but the shame is on us now. Throughout the entire riot, students were screaming “WE ARE PENN STATE.” However, if our actions last night are what Penn State symbolizes, then I want nothing to do with Penn State.

However, it is never too late to remedy our transgressions. It is time that we take our passion and give it aim. Let us all come together peacefully and heal this broken family. We must become informed, seek to better the lives of the victims in any way possible, and never settle until this administration understands reputation and money never comes before morals.

The Latest on the Sandusky Story

The news about Jerry Sandusky and Penn State University is shocking and hard to comprehend. And while we certainly don’t have the resources to cover the story ourselves, we recognize that Penn State and Penn State Football are subjects that many of our readers care deeply about. So, in an attempt to get you the latest news about the story, The Bloomsburg Daily has established a content partnership with Onward State.

Onward State began publishing in 2008 and has established itself as one of the quickest and most informative places for access to Penn State and State College community content produced by Penn State student writers.  What began as a small group of innovative Penn State freshmen has grown into an editorial team of writers, photographers, videographers, and editors, who work to produce content that is interesting and relevant. Onward State harnesses the power of social media not only to share content rapidly, but also to get a pulse for the Penn State student body.

They are covering the details from every perspective and have graciously agreed to allow us to post excerpts of their articles and link you to breaking news and related content for the Sandusky story.  The developments are happening quickly and we hope that this partnership will provide you with the latest details and news.

You will find all of our links and content about these events under the Onward State category here at The Bloomsburg Daily.