Paterno statue disrepectful, inappropriate


Frontline


If you look around the Rutgers-New Brunswick/Piscataway campuses, you are bound to stumble upon statues and sculptures that pay tribute to some of the great things people have done who are affiliated with the University.

If you walk through Voorhees Mall, past the Van Dyke classroom building, it’s hard to miss the statue of William the Silent. Stumbling towards High Point Solutions Stadium, The First Game statue might go unnoticed as your group of tailgaters travels into the stadium prior to a football game. There are countless other representations of our University’s history and the reason behind each one is different, but for the most part it is for purposes of commemoration.

Now picture a statue being erected for former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who was involved in the Rutgers men’s basketball controversy that made headlines last spring. Pernetti’s mishandling of former head basketball coach Mike Rice — after a video surfaced of Rice physically and verbally abusing student athletes — ultimately led to his resignation.

The idea of building a statue for a high-ranking member of the University who left on bad terms seems absurd, but no designs have been made yet for a cast of Pernetti.

But this is not really about Tim Pernetti. 

The controversy that befell Rutgers a year ago pales in comparison to the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal that emerged at Penn State University in 2011. This involved the former University President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and head coach Joe Paterno. Sandusky was found guilty of 45 out of the 48 sexual abuse charges he was brought up on.

As reported by Onward State, a group of people who identify as “Penn Staters” have begun a project to construct a new statue located off campus in downtown State College, Pennsylvania. The new statue follows the decision July 22, 2012 to remove a previous sculpture built in Paterno’s likeness.

The new statue will be placed outside of a tavern downtown and will feature Paterno seated on a bench holding a copy of the “Aeneid.”

While Sandusky’s role was abhorrent in the scandal, Paterno’s role is one that is not free of scrutiny. What was concluded in the Freeh Report — an internal investigation organized by Penn State by former director of the FBI Louis Freeh — was that Paterno, Spanier, Schultz and Curley were all involved in concealing the Sandusky’s actions from authorities, The Board of Trustees and the university’s community.

Paterno testified in front of a grand jury saying he did not alert anyone after he gained knowledge of a situation reported by former assistant Mike McQueary until Sunday for fear of, “interfere[ing] with their weekends” (Freeh 68).

While investigation is still on going as to how much of a role Paterno played and how much he knew, would a statue of someone involved in such a horrific scandal really be appropriate? If anything, the statue would serve as a reminder of the scandal to the Penn State community.

The statue is supposed celebrate Joe Paterno and what he gave back to the university — or at least that is what the project organizers told Onward State.

“There’s been some level of frustration among Penn Staters with what happened with the statue at the stadium,” Ted Sebastianelli, one of the organizers of the project, said. “We wanted to come up with a way to honor Joe for all that he did for the State College community. It wasn’t just the university he impacted — it was the whole town.”

Does a coach that was involved in such an incident really deserve our praise and honor? I think that any role Paterno played in the Sandusky scandal completely overshadows everything that he did for the community or for the school, be it academically or athletically.

If the “Penn Staters” want a chance to remember all that Paterno has done for the community and Penn State, maybe draw up plans to use the money designated for the statue and donate it to victims of sexual abuse instead. At least that way something could be done to help those who are abused, where Paterno failed by turning a blind eye to avoid “interfering” with people’s weekends.

When I first heard that a new statue of Paterno would be built, I was confused as to how someone could be honored while being connected to such an incident. Then I was angry a group of Penn State fanatics would wish to only remember the good side of Paterno when clearly several controversies still loomed.

Now, I’m simply morose that the bad guy who brought all of his dirty secrets to his grave is getting away with it.

 

Tyler Karalewich is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in history and journalism and media studies. He is the associate sports editor of The Daily Targum. 


By Tyler Karalewich

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