Finding the Good at Penn State
Mr. Casey Wiley, lecturer at Penn State University, wrote an excellent piece about the current Sandusky situation at Penn State, with the emphasis on the wonderful things that come out of PSU (i.e., not just high-profile coaches on trial for the unthinkable), and how he and his students have been affected by the Sandusky situation. Wiley comes at the problem trying to figure out what it means to be at Penn State and how to go about finding the amazingness that is still Penn State.
Here are some tidbits; the entire article can be found at EDU in Review:
Three weeks before the allegations broke en masse, on some sunny fall morning, I asked my mostly freshman composition students to write about what it means to be at Penn State. No, that wasn’t right, I said. I thought about it more. I’m an outsider here, I told them. I’ve been teaching at Penn State for two years. I grew up in upstate New York, and I have no family members who attended the university. This may be the case at other major universities, I continued, but hyperbole aside students here seem to express — in the most real and basic sense of the word — Love for the school. Students have feelings for it, a heavy devotion. I said this in all seriousness.
In short: What is this feeling of being at Penn State? Or of being Penn State?
My students smiled — they got it, this strange, maybe naïve philosophy: Penn State-ology, or whatever silly thing one might call it. My students wrote, but in the end, they couldn’t articulate what this Penn State feeling was. Football? Paterno? Tradition? My dad went here? And my grandpa? The social scene? The library and old buildings? In short: Penn State just was. And it was good. I wasn’t satisfied, but I couldn’t articulate why. My students watched me. Like most days, roughly a third of them in this 24 person class wore an article of clothing with big PSU lettering sewn or ironed to it.
… I’m not sure what the students can learn from this horrible situation – long and short term – but I remember saying to them in class and out that week, that while they have every right to feel ashamed, confused, angry with Penn State and its leadership, or lack thereof, maybe the silver lining here, if there is one, is that the students, the community, me, we can all be reminded that Penn State is not a so-so school with a big football program; it is a strong school, now with a tainted football program and hierarchy. And because of that, the entire school is tainted. But the school doesn’t stop teaching and researching and discovering and learning. This school is built on ideas, and the advancement of ideas, I told them. And I believe that.
Posted by Alexa Harrington
(image: Brian Cover)