Penn State Rioting Loses All Sight of Victims

Do we remember what this scandal is about?

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Yesterday, I was disappointed in many of my fellow Penn Staters.

Today, I am ashamed of them.

Last night, thousands of Penn State students flooded the streets of State College, Pa. in protest of the firing of a town hero, long time football coach Joe Paterno.

Rioting students overturned a news van. At least one man was hit in the head with a flying rock. Police officers resorted to mace and tear gas to keep the crowd under some semblance of control, and the university had to send a dispersal notice via text, which went to all current and former students signed up for official alerts, demanding students evacuate downtown State College and the area surrounding the administration building, Old Main.

How is this proving your point, Penn Staters? Do you even have one anymore?

The situation is now so far removed from the original scandal that it's almost hard to remember what all the commotion was about. But we must not forget.

It is the allegations that trace back over more than a decade, the horrifying claims of atrocious child sexual abuse and repeatedly turned heads. It's the fact that a culture of secrecy and reputation was so pervasive that, even when it allegedly became obvious that all trust was shattered, nothing close to enough was done.

[Paterno, Cain Are Not the Victims in Their Scandals]

But last night, the children in question barely seemed still part of the issue. "Two more innocent victims in this disgusting scandal," I read a Penn Stater write, after University President Graham Spanier and Paterno were fired and before thousands of students wrecked havoc in the streets. No matter your stance on Joe Paterno's past or future, I hope you agree that he and Spanier are not victims in the same way as a child who was allegedly subjected to sexual abuse.

And rioting for them—or, more accurately—for JoePa, does nothing to help the boys at stake heal.

Though it's debatable if Paterno looked the other way for too long, last night he got it right. Bombarded by students at his home, he reportedly asked them to go home and pray for the victims.

I'm sure many did. But many others did not.

We, students and alumni alike, should be focused on supporting the alleged victims' continuing ordeals, but if so many Penn Staters prefer the reputation rhetoric of late, so be it.

We no longer need to worry about how accused former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky may reflect our institution. The actions displayed in the streets of State College last night were more than enough to tarnish a reputation on their own.