I read the Collegian editorial, "Vocal Alumni Minority Are Impeding Progress," with great interest, considering that I co-organized the March4Truth and have spent over a year investigating the facts of the Sandusky case. As an analyst and investigator with 28 years experience, who has investigated international incidents of considerable importance, I can assure the Penn State student body that finding the "truth" of the Sandusky matter is in all of our best interests.
I was a bit taken aback by the statements made by UPUA President Katelyn Mullen and the author who believe that the "alumni antics reflect negatively on current students" and that the "actions of a vocal minority are defining us as a school." Ironically, this is clearly a case of misplaced blame on the "vocal" alumni and it is quite similar to the scenario of the blame for Sandusky's crimes being placed on Penn State.
In other words, another false narrative.
The reason that Penn State has been defined as a school that enabled child sexual abuse is because the PSU Board of Trustees failed to defend our University against false allegations of failing to report Sandusky's crimes. Morevoer, the Board's failure to refute the Freeh Report caused the NCAA to levy sanctions and penalties that, to the public at large, defined Penn State as a school of child abuse enablers.
The "vocal" alumni had nothing to do with either of those ill-fated decisions. In fact, we opposed them.
Most students are too young to remember when the NCAA gave Southern Methodist University the death penalty in 1987, however, it was a black mark that has hung on SMU ever since. A few years ago, ESPN made a movie about the scandal called "Pony Excess." As I write this, another movie starring Al Pacino as Joe Paterno will document the Sandusky scandal's false narrative and be shown to millions of people.
The NCAA sanctions on PSU will result in a similar black mark that will hang on this University for the next 30 to 50 years, if not the rest of our lives.
Unless, the truth is revealed.
The PSU BOT wants us all to "move forward" in the best interests of the University. They say look to the future -- but only because they don't want to be held accountable for the damage they have inflicted on Penn State.
When you are asked about the Sandusky case in a job interview, it is because the BOT accepted guilt for the scandal - not because the alumni are expressing dismay in the school's leadership. Almost none of the publicity about the scandal to date has anything to do with the "vocal" alumni and everything to do with the failure of the Board to defend PSU and its administrators. The fact of the matter is that future media coverage of the Sandusky scandal is inevitable because of the pending court cases of PSU officials - again, not a result of the "vocal" alumni, but of the BOT, who threw these men "under the bus."
So, the concept of "moving forward" to avoid publicity about the scandal is not only flawed logically, but practically.
Next, if you believe you were the only people affected by the scandal because you were on PSU's campus, you are quite wrong about that. Talk to alumni who were denied promotions or not hired because of it. Talk to alumni whose cars and homes were vandalized because they displayed PSU's "colors." Talk to alumni who have had to answer the similar questions, as you have during job interviews, about the scandal. I would submit that our experiences were possibly worse than yours, considering we are surrounded by graduates of other schools while the population you exist in is rather homogenous. Your community was supportive and had empathy, while the majority of our communities were not.
Another area where we may differ is in how we reacted to the scandal and the allegations levied on PSU that resulted in such destruction. And perhaps that is a matter of life experience.
The most important thing I can ask of you, to perhaps understand why the alumni protested to demand the truth and "due process," is that you "walk a mile in another man's shoes."
Imagine if you returned to your dormitory or apartment to find a phone message or e-mail waiting for you. The message simply tells you to call an individual at a certain phone number. You dial the number and, after confirming your identity, the person on the other end of the line says: "You are no longer a student at Penn State University." You are told you were expelled because of allegations of academic fraud that have not yet been proven. The professor who made the allegations is highly respected by the Administration, thus no examination of the evidence is performed. Your guilt is simply based on the professor's allegations. You are not given an opportunity to speak in your own defense nor is there any process for redress.
Two weeks after that, you receive a letter informing you to return your student ID card and other property that PSU determines you owe the Unversity. This letter formalizes your expulsion and it is made public that you were expelled for academic fraud. The public now knows you were expelled for academic fraud, thus you must be a "flawed" individual. Some in the public refer to your "flaw" as "tragic."
What would you do? Move on? Put Penn State behind you, even though the record will show that you're a cheater and have a flawed character?
Apparently, you would. That's what you're telling the alumni to do.
But here's the rub. This is not about one person. It's about 600,000 people who get called "pedophile enablers" and will continue to bear that label until the record is corrected.
This is where we "vocal" alumni are coming from. We understand that a school that we love was unjustly maligned, just as good men's reputations were damaged or ruined without due process.
The "vocal" alumni know that revealing the truth about the Sandusky Scandal is the ONLY thing that will remove the black mark put on our school and on all of us. Moving forward is not the answer.
I would welcome the opportunity to engage the students in dialogue about the facts of the scandal in the near future.
For the glory,
Ray Blehar, Honors Graduate,
Penn State Smeal MBA, Class of 2008
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