Penn State Riots Over the Wrong Thing

By now I hope you know the details of the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University.

For those of you who do not, here is a quick update. In 2002, a former defensive coordinator for the school’s football team, Jerry Sandusky, was caught in the act of sodomizing a ten-year-old boy in the showers of the school’s gym.

The man who caught him was a graduate assistant for the team, Mike McQueary. McQuearydid not call the police. Instead, he informed the school’s revered football coach, Joe Paterno, who forwarded the issue up the chain of command to both the school’s president and athletic director.

Each time the message was forwarded, it became more distilled and less specific; it did not make it clear that Sandusky was indeed anally raping a ten-year-old boy in the school’s showers. In the end, the school did nothing.

Justice is being somewhat served as Sandusky is now being charged with a slew of child-sex-abuse-related crimes. The school’s senior vice president for business and finance and the athletic director are both being charged with perjury. The trial of any of these men is not the story here.

The issue is incredibly complicated. The first clue Penn State administration got of Sandusky molesting boys in the shower happened in 1998, and the boy was estimated to be about ten years old.

That would mean he is about college-aged nowadays, and therefore is someone we could identify with. There are several moral issues at stake here.

The first is the cover up by Penn State. The incident in question happened in 1998.

Sandusky was rightfully dismissed from the team shortly afterwards but the jury found that his devious interaction with young boys continued until 2009.

Those who knew about it at Penn State allowed a known child rapist to continue to violate boys for ten years. Not only that, the administration gave him permission to use their facilities to run a football camp for underprivileged boys; they provided Sandusky with a safe haven to continue to perform illicit sexual activity on minors. I do not have to point out what is wrong with that. Penn State University harbored the worst kind of criminal: A child rapist.

The second issue is how the student body and community at large reacted to the slate of firings at their school. Recently, revered football coach Joe Paterno lost his job in connection to the abuse, and, because Paterno is considered the greatest college football coach of all time, the Penn State community is protesting and rioting.

I feel the need to make that clear; the student body at Penn State is rioting not because they feel that their prospects of getting a job after they graduate are low, or, more appallingly, not because their school has been a bastion of sex abuse for a decade.

Rather, they are rioting because of a football coach lost his job in connection with the cover-up of a nasty case of sexual abuse. The issue should transcend football.

Every aspect of how this situation unfolded was compounded by a gross error on the part of the administration and students of Penn State University. I know our student body at SXU is more intelligent than that of Penn State. I know that, given a similar situation, anyone associated with our school would have acted to stop the child rapist.

And I know that, were a beloved figure in our community dismissed in connection with helping hide a child rapist, our school would support the dismissal instead of rioting in support of him or her.

It’s easy to say we’d act morally given a similar circumstance.

However, Saint Xavier University is a school that instills in its entire student body and staff a sense of morality over a sense of prestige; we are not being brain-washed to support SXUregardless of what happens to it, like the students of Penn State are.

We are being taught to serve justice, regardless of the consequences. We are forever in pursuit of Via, Veritas, Vita: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And because of that, I know everyone at Saint Xavier would have acted differently. We are stronger than that.

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