Tuesday, November 8, 2011

PS i can't believe U

I graduated from Penn State University in 2008 with two degrees and I was so proud. I wasn't just proud on graduation day, but for the entire time I spent at Penn State. Penn State was the first place where I felt at home and the first place I felt that I belonged, and I felt that way just because it was the natural result of being there. I knew, or I really thought that I knew that I would always love it there.

I have spent the better part of three days trying to dig up a way to get that feeling back. I've been trying to find something, anything to give me that pride and love back. I want to agree with my peers who are standing by our school and still able to believe in its motto, "we are Penn State." If I could wish for anything right now, it would be to agree with them. I can read all of the motivating quotes about how Penn State is more than just football and more than just a few disgusting people and I can try to become inspired. I am not admonishing those who have found a way to make peace with this scandal and come out still loving Penn State. I am so sorry to utter these two words that follow, words that I hate saying ever because they encompass the whole idea of giving up. But, here goes:

I.... CAN'T....

I can't love Penn State anymore. I never thought my feelings could change so quickly but I have learned something new about myself in the past few days. I am embarrassed to be associated with the school. Or rather, I want no association with the school. I was arguing with an author today, a high esteemed author in my opinion, because he seemed to be lumping the Penn State students (current and former) with the disgusting pervert who raped children and the disgusting people who knew what he was doing and didn't report it. That author reminded me of something important, something I had long forgotten because of the sense of belonging and the sense of family mentality created by Penn State. He told me, "You need to separate your identity from Penn State. Thats why you are taking these as attacks on yourself--because you see yourself as an extension of Penn State. You're a person, not a piece of Penn State."

I never thought (and I mean no offense by this) that Tucker Max would make me feel better about completely losing faith in a place that I loved and trusted. Up until I found out about this deplorable scandal, I was just like the stereotypical Penn State student. The DAY before I found out about this, I was in the car with my boyfriend and the car in front of us had a Penn State sticker on its back window. My boyfriend saw that "Penn State look" (that's the only way I can describe it) in my eyes upon seeing it. It's the same look I used to get every time I would meet a new person that went to Penn State, a new member of the "family" that my alma mater created for me. I used to try to describe it to people who didn't go to Penn State. I would try to explain that there was an unspoken connection, an inexplicable bond between Penn State students that just came naturally.

Consider me personally disconnecting myself from that family. This is me breaking the bond because everything I ever thought Penn State has been permanently destroyed. I am not going to sit here and say that everyone should consider to admire Joe Paterno because he "performed his legal duty" by telling his bosses what Mike McQueary had reported to him. I'm not going to breath a sigh of relief because a bunch of people are rattling off every fact they've ever learned about hearsay in order to justify Paterno's inaction. I'm not going to entertain the idea of possibly supporting Penn State's president, Graham Spanier, ever again. He thought that adequate action had been taken when Sandusky was ordered not to bring any more children into Penn State's football building. The first words that Spanier uttered to the public after word of this scandal went viral was that the two employees (now resigned--what a coincidence) who failed to report the incident and perjured themselves to a grand jury about their knowledge of the incident, had his "UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT."

People who have maintained their Penn State pride are advising everyone to dissociate their happy memories of Penn State from this horrible scandal. Well, as I said, "I CAN'T." It is all one in the same for me no matter what I do. Deep down, that is just truly the way I feel and every single one of my memories of Penn State is damaged. I double majored in English and French at Penn State. I had Spanier's wife as an English teacher and I remember that I didn't even realize it at first. I remember the day that she handed out one of our textbooks and I made the connection when I read the dedication, "For Graham." I used to describe this memory as "pretty cool." Now it makes me sick. Not just that memory, not just memories at all. Penn State makes me sick, RIGHT NOW.

I do not know what I can do to even attempt to fix this situation, but in order to get myself out of this pile of Penn State pride garbage, I know that I need to do something. I want to help the victims, I want everyone who knew about what happened and failed to report it to get the punishment that they deserve. But I know that I have to do more than just want. While people are deciding what color to wear to the next Penn State football game to express their emotions and opinions on this scandal while still showing their support for Penn State, I will be figuring out exactly what type of action I can personally take to get rid of this sick feeling in my heart.

Tucker Max is right. At first I was getting offended because I was taking the attacks on Penn State personally because I felt like I was "a piece of Penn State." Now I know that I am NOT a piece of Penn State. I am a person who went to Penn State. I am a person who got two diplomas from Penn State. But I am NOT Penn State. I am a person who feels betrayed by Penn State. Now, instead of trying to find a way to accept it, I have to figure out a way to change it. I'm not sure how I will do this yet. I just know that I am separate from this corrupt "community" and I am making peace with that.

I will figure out some sort of action to take. I have to, because even though I have lost faith in Penn State as an institution, I have not lost faith in myself. But if I just sit and do nothing about it, then I will lose faith in myself and I am not going to let Penn State take that away from me.

*Forgive me for any display of bitterness or lack of support for Penn State... but I don't like rape.