We Can All Take a Page out of Joe Paterno’s Book….and burn it.
According to Yahoo! News, Penn State University Students responded very maturely to the firing of Joe Paterno by shouting:
“We want JoePa,” “One more game” and “F*** the media!,” rioting students flipped over a television van, knocked a lamppost onto a car, threw toilet tissue and rocks at police and set off fireworks.
The students who took part in this campus-wide riot are making their stance clear: We care much more about winning football games than the well-being of our fellow students. This is a depressingly too common stance when it comes to any sexual abuse or rape case in our society. If the “accused” also known as the abuser or rapist has any value (as assigned by our white, middle-upper class, male, ableist, hetero-normative – dominated society) like clockwork, a set of dynamics take place without fail. In this case it is a world-renowned football coach. For each win he has under his belt, die-hard fans are willing to make excuse his actions.
Assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with abusing at least 8 boys over a span of 15 years. Additionally Athletic director Tim Curley and Vice President for Finance Gary Schultz were charged with not reporting the sexual abuse and of course lying under oath.
The background of the case is that a graduate assistant saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a locker room shower in the Penn State football department. He then told Paterno what he saw, and Paterno alerted Curley and Shultz. None of the men reported anything.
Having experience working directly in the domestic violence and sexual assault professional realms, the Clery Act is something that I’m very familiar with – it is also something that ALL colleges and universities should also be very familiar with. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires colleges to report and disclose this type of sexual abuse (and other criminal offenses) on campus. In other words, Sandusky, Curley, Schultz, and Paterno are all mandated reporters and they clearly did not say a word.
There is a saying that speaks to there being “two types of bad people…people who do bad things, and people who see bad things happen and don’t say anything.” So if Paterno knew about Sandusky’s abuse, does he not have a moral obligation to himself, the victims/survivors, and the entire PSU campus to do something?
We will never make progress in our society if we don’t give up this pathetic notion of what we have labeled “the innocent bystander”. Somehow we are all innocent in all the cases that we may witness or know about. Perhaps this is that precise attitude that is keeping us from moving forward. Rather than ever accept being an “innocent bystander” how about we strive to be empowered bystanders and arm ourselves with tools to act when we see or hear out potentially harmful situations?
Paterno told the press:
“I am disappointed with the board of trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it,” he said in a statement. “A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed.
How about you listen to your [now former] PSU Quaterback Matt McGloin, [now former] coach?
McGloin tweeted Thursday:
“This is a tough time But the outrage we are feeling now is nothing compared to what the victims are going through.keep them in our prayers.”
For more information about bystander intervention work, please contact us at MasculinityU and we can provide you with national organizations and already established programs.
For this information and all other feedback on this blog please e-mail me at Sacchi@MasculinityU.com