I am tired. Today is Friday, and this has been the longest, most stressful, most emotional week of my life.
It isn’t my nature it get stressed out. I get anxious, sure, but stress is always something I’ve been able to dissipate with the power of a deep breath. Not so this week.
As a Penn Stater, seeing your world turned upside down with horrific charges, tarnishing the otherwise pristine reputation of the University, has been incredibly difficult. No longer can we point to our high graduation rate for student athletes or our lack of NCAA infractions. This is bigger than all of that. This is likely the biggest scandal in the history of American higher education, and it happened at our school, where the go-to phrase has always been: Success with Honor. Kind of hard to digest. Dr. Spanier is gone. Tim Curley is god knows where. VP Schultz is gone. JOE PATERNO WAS FIRED. Mike McQueary isn’t coaching tomorrow due to death threats. DEATH THREATS!
On top of that, as a member of the Presidential Leadership Academy, I am tremendously saddened to see Dr. Spanier leave. I understand that the way the administration handled the immediate situation and the larger PR issue necessitated that someone take the fall for this. Dr. Spanier and Joe Paterno were those people. I will never forget the insights Dr. Spanier provided us with and the one-on-one conversations we shared. Like Joe, he is a man with a great history of accomplishment tarnished. Moving forward, the Academy will be without one of its founders, but will continue to be strong. I am certain that President Erickson will be a capable, sincere part of our institution, able to impart wisdom to many Academy classes to come.
On top of all of that, Onward State has been working on informing the students, alumni, and those outside the Penn State bubble. “Working” may be one of the largest understatements I’ve ever written. We have a staff of about 40, and every one of them has worked tirelessly for the past week. I have never been more proud of the organization or its people. Each of them have been under the same emotional and physical stress as I have, but have rose to the occasion to make OS shine. If there is one good thing to come out of this terrible episode in Penn State’s history, this is it for me. I am confident that, moving on next year, Onward State will be fine. This week we skipped classes, we updated the liveblog habitually, and tweeted constantly. I think that OS and the Collegian had the most levelheaded take on the situation in the entire country. I’m incredibly disappointed in the coverage of ESPN, CNN, and others, who sold out their objective coverage for sensationalism and the buzz that accompanies it.
So, these three levels of my involvement in this scandal have left me incredibly hurt, dazed, and saddened, but also a tiny bit proud of the way the majority of students have responded. I think the #ProudPSUforRAINN campaign to raise money is incredible. The candlelight vigil tonight will be so emotional, and the game tomorrow should be one of the most surreal, moving experiences of my life.
It’s been a long trip these past few days, and it’s not going to get any better for a while, but We. Are. Penn State.