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Penn State Needs to Step Up

I’m intrigued by the email, IM, Twitter and Facebook conversations I’m having with colleagues this week about the Penn State Football Crisis.  And, of course, I have a few thoughts I’m happy to share.
First, I am outraged that nobody at Penn State has expressed any care, compassion or concern for the alleged victims.  I cannot believe that the university asks families to entrust their children to them and then have no compassion for other members of the community when allegations of abuse arise.  What a mistake as human beings and as recruiters of students and student athletes not to address the allegations humanely.
Second, shame on the Penn State athletics department for proceeding with business as usual.   It was no surprise that the press conference scheduled for Paterno was cancelled—nobody was going to ask about the game against Nebraska.  Nobody.
Third, let’s stop calling this a football crisis.  The players did nothing wrong and need to be shielded from the media firestorm that is descending upon their institution.  Let’s call this the Penn State Former Coach and Administrators are Ridiculous Crisis.
Finally, the Penn State board needs to step up to the plate immediately.  These atrocities have risen to the level of their purview—to be honest, they have BEEN at the level of their purview.  They need to determine what the next steps are for the university and what is in the best interest of the institution.  The best interest of the individual administrators should not be the board’s focus at this time.  They needs to make significant changes TODAY.
This sad story highlights the responsibility each and every one of us in higher education has to not only follow our campus policies and the law, but also to do what is right.  No person or office should be treated as if they are above reproach, and just implementing policies may not be enough.
As institutions of higher education we have a responsibility to our faculty, staff, students and communities to be safe havens for learning and campus life experiences. University administrators have a responsibility, legally and professionally, to create such an environment.
Now is the time for Penn State to up its game in the court of public opinion and do what is right.  Period.