Thursday, November 10, 2011

Critical-thinking skills at Penn State

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for Joe Pa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.


“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”


Four girls in heels danced on the roof of a parked sport utility vehicle and dented it when they fell after a group of men shook the vehicle. A few, like Justin Muir, 20, a junior studying hotel and restaurant management, threw rolls of toilet paper into the trees.

“It’s not fair,“ Mr. Muir said hurling a white ribbon. “The board is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population.”


Some students noted the irony that they had come out to oppose what they saw as a disgraceful end to Mr. Paterno’s distinguished career as a football coach, and then added to the ignobility of the episode by starting an unruly protest.

Greg Becker, 19, a freshman studying computer science, said he felt he had to vent his feelings anyway.

“This definitely looks bad for our school,” he said sprinting away from a cloud of pepper spray. “I’m sure Joe Pa wouldn’t want this, but this is just an uproar now, we’re finding a way to express our anger.”


Paul Howard, 24, an aerospace engineering student, jeered the police.

“Of course we’re going to riot,” he said. “What do they expect when they tell us at 10 o’clock that they fired our football coach?”

Penn State Students Clash With Police in Unrest After Announcement (New York Times)

comments: 9

Pete said...

Fanaticism rears its ugly head.

Yes, it was the media that looked the other way while children were sexually abused. Yes, it was the board that looked the other way while children were sexually abused. The football program and athletic department are totally blameless, so the students riot in protest.

Sure, I was young and stupid as an undergrad too, but never this young and stupid. I hope they think differently after they grow up, get married and become parents of teenaged boys.

Michael Leddy said...

Blind loyalty to a demi-god is a frightening thing. I wonder if the students quoted in the article have read the indictment.

Matt Thomas said...

My favorite part of this piece for some reason: "Some blew vuvuzelas, others air horns. One young man sounded reveille on a trumpet."

Michael Leddy said...

“One young man”: I suspect that the reporter, Nate Schweber, was writing with a fine sense of irony.

normann said...

Isn't Penn State supposed to be the flagship state university? I can't imagine students at my alma mater behaving so disgracefully. While it certainly pales in comparison with the alleged sexual abuse, it's pretty appalling nonetheless. "They fired our football coach". No, they fired the football team's football coach. He's not your coach unless you're on the team. He is, or was, just another university employee, rightly dismissed for improper conduct.

normann said...

Update in today's online IHT:

Canceling next year's season is the very least they could do.

Michael Leddy said...

Every one of Nocera’s recommendations seems reasonable and appropriate. The only one I can imagine Penn State taking up is a fund for the victims and their families.

normann said...

...which, if it that is the only recommendation Penn State follows, will just go to show you. The viciously skeptical quotation marks around "University" will then fit. I wonder what Paul Fussell (who thought that some "universities" deserved such scare-quote treatment, cf. Class) must be thinking.

Michael Leddy said...

I wonder too about Michael Bérubé, Paterno Family Professor in Literature and soon-to-be president of the Modern Language Association.