Prepared Statement of Robert Bannon before Pennsylvania State University’s Board of Trustees
May 3, 2013
My name is Robert Bannon. I am a Penn State World Campus student as well as Co-Chairman of the Jason Bannon Foundation whose sole purpose is to raise funds and award scholarships to graduating seniors of Rancocas Valley Regional High School who plan on attending Penn State University. I am not your typical Penn State student, despite meeting my wife at a Penn State campus. I have never attended a class in a traditional Penn State classroom. Nevertheless, I have a love for this institution beyond words probably due to my brother.
You see, 20 years ago my brother was shot in the back of the head by another student and died. He was never able to attend Penn State and play Penn State football - a life long ambition of his so much so that his was buried wearing a Penn State jersey. It would be a mistake to think I am the least bit motivated by football. With the exception of a Blue and White game, I have never seen a football game from inside Beaver Stadium. I just can't bring myself to do it - too much emotional baggage I'm guessing.
I've also had the unique perspective of looking at the events of the past 18 months as both a dedicated member of the Penn State community as well as a victim of childhood molestation.
In November 2011, I sent each of the Penn State Trustees a letter regarding my unique dual perspective stressing the importance of objectivity. With the exception of a letter I received on behalf of President Erickson and his wife, I received no response. I said that I often received well-intentioned advice to simply "put it behind me". As a sexual abuse survivor, I can’t begin to tell you how bad that advice was. I pray you now recognize that as well; however, it appears you have not.
Just as a physician cannot treat a patient without exams, x-rays and, at times, invasive procedures, you cannot fix a problem by a simple desire to bet better and MOVE ON. Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. All of you need to get your hands dirty.
Your actions remind me of an experience I had as a child. My sister gave me a haircut and my mother, well intentioned, tried to fix it. With each cut of the scissors she only made it worse. She realized her limitations and took me to a professional to fix the problem.
Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come for you to realize your limitations, MOVE ON and let professionals fix the problem just as my mother did many years ago.
I constantly have to remind myself the Board of Trustees is made up of educated people but your actions continue to give me pause.
In March of this year, State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said before the State Senate's Committee on Government that it would be a "big mistake" to allow Penn State University's Board of Trustees to reform itself. Minutes later and just after the prepared statement by Trustee Broadhurst, the very first question by the Chairman of the Committee dealt with proposed recommendations not yet approved by the Board of Trustees. He asked Trustee Broadhurst if individual members would be able to vote for some recommendations and not others. After a vague response by Trustee Broadhurst, Trustee Masser interrupted, "Let me clarify - As Chair of the Board, my plan is to vote on each recommendation one by one by the full Board".
The Board continues to demonstrate its ineptitude. The highest arbiter of dispute in our country, the Supreme Court, provides dissenting opinion; dissent is healthy. Disfavor with this Board has created grassroots reform groups. If you approve the so-called "Lubrano Rule", or worse yet use it, ranks in those reform groups will grow exponentially.
Comments from Trustees seem to know no bounds. Trustee Frasier's infamous "People who look like you" comment was made significantly worse when he added, "Yea, I said it." His affirmation of his racist and degrading comment only demonstrated it was knowing and not, as he later described in his apology, in the proverbial heat of the moment.
Trustee and Vice-Chair Stephanie Nolan Deviney is both a Trustee and a candidate for re-election to the Board. Deviney's re-election Facebook page is littered with examples of her patronizing the very people to whom she is asking for votes. Virtually every question is ignored and of the ones answered, the responses from Trustee Deviney are mostly condescending. She refuses to answer even the most substantive and respectful questions.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board, your failure to resign is unfortunate; running for re-election or accepting another term is repugnant. To quote Trustee Frasier, "Yea, I said it."