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Published:November 28th, 2011 12:30 EST
Yes, We Are a Penn State Family

Yes, We Are a Penn State Family

By Donna Cavanagh

This is a risky piece because I am going to tell you that we are a Penn State family.  I don`t know why it should be risky to say so, but apparently, just going to that university or sending your child there has come to mean that you are a pedophile. If you read the ESPN or Huffington Post`s message boards, just saying you like Penn State gives others the right to hang you, curse you and wish you dead.  

Comedians and Hollywood types on Twitter have been blasting anyone who has shown support to their school and giving high fives out to high school students who choose NOT to go to Penn State. How sad and ignorant is this?  How sad that they use their celebrity to denigrate so many who they do not know.  I am skeptical over their desire for justice. I see it as a way for them to get their names out there hoping they can attract fans or followers. Their motives are at best suspect.

A friend of mine, or someone who I thought was a friend-- someone who I helped out so much in different ways, told me my daughter should be violently raped and sodomized because she went to Penn State.  I think my daughter would be all of 10 years of age when these alleged incidents occurred.  I went to a family wedding and we were verbally assaulted for having Penn State ties.  We just walked away. Well, that is not true. I said,  "Wow, you are an ass" in a very calm tone and then walked away-- okay, my husband pulled me away. Anyway, I walked away.

This is a problem (Not that I almost got into a fight, but that could have been an issue too). Students and alumni and those current football players or any other athletes are innocent of any wrong doing.  No one should forget that. I have seen the anger of people on message boards, and quite frankly I am amazed at how much judgment comes from so little information.  Don`t get me wrong: if Sandusky is guilty he needs to go to jail for a very long time.

If the courts agree that others covered up information, they should be punished too, but the hatred and anger on these internet boards toward current students and alumni is no less ridiculous than the Puritans who ran the Salem witch trials four centuries ago.  The snowball effect of not having all the facts but jumping to make a rush judgment is a dangerous proposition that none of us in this country can afford because we do not know what our futures hold, and we want to preserve our rights if we are ever on the wrong end of a DA investigation.

It seems that to to get justice for these alleged victims, the general public wants current PSU students to die or be raped or they want the school to shut down or make it so no one hires these students when they graduate.  How illogical is this? Is this going to help victims of child abuse?  While these people were screaming about justice and vengeance, PSU alumni were raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to help those victimized by abuse.  And I bet not one person mouthing off about the demise of PSU donated one cent because they their anger blinded them to these efforts.

Penn State taught my daughter to be an independent thinking and confident young woman. The school provided her with an unbelievable education, and a sense that the world is your community and you have a responsibility to help.  Penn State students run THON each year.  For those who never heard of THON, it is the largest student-run philanthropic organization in the world which raises million of dollars each year for pediatric cancer. 

You might have seen their You Tube videos. The year-long volunteer effort which involves about three-quarters of the student body, culminates in a 48-hour dance marathon. The proceeds go to fund research and assist families who cannot pay for their children`s cancer treatments.  Why don`t you know about THON? It`s not news I guess. Students doing something good rarely makes news, but if those who comment on message boards have their way, PSU would be gone and so would THON. One person said to me, "The cancer kids are not as important as the molested kids. "   

Do you see the problem?  The children, who are now adults, who were allegedly abused deserve all the support we can muster, and they should never be made to think that they were responsible for anything that happened to them.   In the same vein, the current students and alumni of PSU should get the same deal. 

As I watch the Syracuse University scandal unfurl, I hope to God, people have learned not to lynch their students, faculty and alumni.  I hope the world has learned that to ridicule and punish innocent people for the deeds of others is not justice but just as much a tragedy as the crime they want to avenge.