Posted by: Catherine Lugg | December 12, 2011

A thorough story on Penn State and Sandusky

Associated Press (AP) has just posed a lengthy story entitled, PSU culture explained away Sandusky. A few key paragraphs:

Year after year, Penn State missed opportunity after opportunity to stop Sandusky. Secrecy ruled, and reaction to complaints of improper sexual behavior was to remain silent, minimize or explain away — all part of a deep-rooted reflex to protect the sacred football program.

The fact that so few say they knew is all anyone needs to know about the insular culture that surrounds Penn State — a remote and isolated community in a central Pennsylvania valley, a university cloaked in so much secrecy, in large part, because it is exempt from the state’s open records law, and a football program that has prided itself on handling its indiscretions internally and quietly, without outside interference.

It’s the secrecy coupled with overweening arrogance and blindness that fueled the pathology. During my time there, Penn State didn’t take criticism and it most certainly didn’t do internal critique. Everything was JUST FINE, thank you very much.

And I’m not sure much is really going to change. A lot of the University’s PR is focusing on moving ahead, into a new era. But clearly, the university still has no desire to engage in any form of searching self-critique. Like the case of the Catholic church and its coverup of sexually abusive priests, I suspect this will not happen UNLESS and UNTIL it is sued, multiple times, and during the discovery process it is forced to disclose endless files and leaders are deposed on how the culture and individual university leaders actually enabled Sandusky. However, that prospect is fairly dim, since the university is very good at imposing silence.

This is why today’s story in AP is so important. The sexual violence that Jerry Sandusky is alleged to have inflicted on young boys was enabled by a culture and individual leaders who valued mythology over truth–and the safety of children.

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