Change is coming. It's an undeniable fact that all within the Penn State community must accept following the release of the Freeh Report, which came to the conclusion that four of the most powerful men at the university, including former football head coach Joe Paterno, "failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade." One PSU student organization announced an expected and necessary change on Monday evening, a decision that wasn't welcomed with open arms by many former and current Penn Staters.
The student group responsible for running "Paternoville," the campsite that pops up in front of Beaver Stadium before Penn State home football games, announced on Monday that the organization has been renamed to "Nittanyville." The following is included in the organization's official press release regarding the matter: "Now, it's a new era of Nittany Lion football...And by changing the name to Nittanyville we want to return the focus to the overall team and the thousands of students who support it. We thank the Paterno family for their gracious assistance and support over the last several years."
The response to this announcement from some in the PSU community and from Paterno defenders/apologists was, as one might have predicted, ugly. "This is what happens when you get your news from espn....where they follow agendas all day and go extra critical. I hope to god tim tebow rapes a kid so i can watch all their heads twirl when they're forced to talk bad about them," said one person commenting via Facebook. Another individual stated that those running the student organization "deserve to burn in hell."
The Nittanyville organization has a new Facebook home, a move that allowed another individual/group to acquire the Paternoville group name. That page now exists "In memory of the Penn State student tradition of Paternoville which was disgraced by its student officers who cowardly changed names post Freeh report." The new Paternoville page had 125 "likes" as of Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after Paternoville was changed to Nittanyville.
Another reminder that the Happy Valley that I knew as a Penn State student roughly one decade ago is but a memory came from the sky on Tuesday morning. A banner that had the phrase "Take the statue down or we will," referencing the Joe Paterno statue that remains outside of Beaver Stadium, was flown over State College. It was reported on Monday that no official decision has been made regarding the future of that statue. Things got even a little more "real" on Tuesday morning when it was reported that the NCAA is not ruling out the possibility of Penn State football being shut down.
In the days following the release of the Freeh Report, I have spoken with numerous former Penn State classmates, and also with several individuals who currently live and work in State College. Such conversations have resulted in my believing that those who continue to defend Joe Paterno are a loud minority and thus do not give a proper representation of the current PSU community as a whole. These individuals would do well to remember the "may no act of ours bring shame" line that's found in the Penn State Alma Mater, and also that Paterno will never, ever be a true victim in this matter, one that has haunted my beloved university since November.
One thing is very clear on July 17, 2012: This story isn't going anywhere anytime soon.