Comments on: Brief thoughts on Penn State http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:56:07 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Brandon http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-907251 Fri, 18 Nov 2011 18:36:03 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-907251 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nittany_Lion

The Nittany Lion is the mascot of the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, USA and its athletic teams. It refers to the mountain lions that once roamed near the school, and to Mount Nittany,[1] a local landmark. There is also a fight song played during sporting events on campus entitled “The Nittany Lion.”

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By: soon-to-be-ex-academic http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-906237 Wed, 16 Nov 2011 20:51:14 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-906237 Hm, looking back at my post I’m not sure I really developed that point about corporate hierarchies vs. something else, but I’ll let it lie.

I think the reason I’m stuck on the corporate hierarchy thing is that something gets lost from the narrative when people start seeing this situation in that light Paterno wasn’t a middle manager, nor was he a higher-up manager. He was god and general of a pseudo-military organization that absolutely relies on personal ties, obedience, and toeing the line. It was absolutely his organization, and Sandusky was there on his sufference. And as long as Paterno kept Sandusky around, Sandusky retained a certain amount of political power and protection.

Likewise, Sandusky wasn’t some middle manager. For all intents and purposes, he was the heir apparent and it seems very likely he was being groomed to follow in Paterno’s footsteps. All of that changed in 1999, when Sandusky suddenly retired to “focus on his charity work.” Keep in mind that he was given emeritus status, kept an office, and had free run of the football facilities. Paterno didn’t publicly disown Sandusky, who’d publicly been seen as his protege, so while his resignation was a mystery, he remained closely affiliated with the Penn State football machine.

I don’t think this is happening much in the current thread, but in many places I see McQueary described as “the grad student,” which seems to distance him from the football apparatus somewhat. I suppose I imagine a young man who’s been with the school a year or two, not really part of the larger apparatus. But McQueary had been recruited and coached by Paterno(back when McQueary was star quarterback as an undergrad), and came to Penn State as a grad student to continue his rise through that pseudo-military organization. Seeing someone as high up as Sandusky raping a young boy, and then being told by Paterno that what he actually saw was “horsing around”? I do not excuse McQueary of his moral duty to report the mo-fo and then do everything he could to get justice, and I condemn him for continuing to support the apparatus after it had failed so spectacularly at human decency, but we can’t stop with pointing the finger at him. Or, hell, Paterno (although I will keep pointing my finger at him as well). Which brings me full circle, so see my rant in the post above.

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By: soon-to-be-ex-academic http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-906236 Wed, 16 Nov 2011 20:44:30 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-906236 Anonymous, my understanding is that in 2002 Sandusky was not banned from the University; he was simply banned from bringing young boys onto University grounds. I kind of hope my understanding is wrong, as that act really turns my stomach. It pretty clearly implies that the administrators acknowledged he was harming young boys, but they would leave him to it as long as he kept the University out of it. Ick, ick, ick. And shame, shame, shame.

What could Paterno have done? To begin with, and perhaps most importantly, I think, might have been not to downplay the reports he received. (McQueary, paraphrased: “I saw Sandusky anally raping a boy in the shower.” Paterno, paraphrased: “What McQueary observed was some horsing around in the shower.” Message to McQueary: This is your reality now.) How about put Sandusky on administrative leave pending investigation, and then pushing for a thorough investigation?

One thing I appreciate about this discussion thread is that people are trying to work through some of the larger systemic implications. Is it a male/female issue? A rape culture issue? Patriarchy? Pseudomilitarism? etc. etc. With Paterno and McQueary, I think we could argue until we were blue in the face regarding what they could have done, should have done, failed in doing, how their in/actions contributed to Sandusky’s crimes and his remaining free to escalate his sexual assaults (anybody else notice that the reports begin with “fondling” and touching genitals and eventually become anal rape? All of it was sexual assault, of course, but I can’t help but think that Sandusky was emboldened by occasionally being caught and not facing consequences). I sincerely hope that these men will face the consequences of their in/actions. At the same time, I want to tear down the system/s which made these actions seem like viable choices.

How do so many humans end up complicit in crimes against humanity, time and time again (women as well as men)? What are the systematic forces which make such complicity the “correct” choices? In this instance, I don’t think it’s bureaucracy or hierarchy on its own, but the specific pseudomilitary, macho, semper fi indoctrination that is college football (so, yes, in this instance, it’s men). I think maybe the reason we end up using sexual harassment to discuss this case (and then finding it woefully inadequate) arises from falsely envisioning it to have occurred in a corporate bureaucracy. To really get at the particulars of this case, I think it’s much more helpful to imagine a military model (although there’s a bit of cultishness in there, too; I’m not sure what model helps with that, other than “sports team”).

Wow. I’m supposed to be working on my thesis, but I guess I can’t get this case out of my system. I think I have more to say, perhaps in a second post.

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-905135 Tue, 15 Nov 2011 06:35:04 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-905135 Thank you anon #11:47!

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By: My Ambivalent Relationship to College Sports « The Academy's Bench Warmer http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-904821 Mon, 14 Nov 2011 18:22:08 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-904821 [...] the PSU tragedy continues to unfold, a number of thoughtful people have noted all the bad things about college sports, or, more specifically, college football and [...]

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By: See something, say something « Design. Build. Play. http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-904450 Mon, 14 Nov 2011 03:28:57 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-904450 [...] issue at Penn State has made me think about one’s own ability to become a whistleblower. Historiann and Tenured Radical both discussed the issue itself much better than I could have so I’m not [...]

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By: naomi dagen bloom http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-903986 Sun, 13 Nov 2011 07:00:26 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-903986 Thanks to Historiann and all who have commented here. In an ideal academic world, each of you who is on a faculty or part of a college administration would print out this post plus entire exchange and offer it to colleagues for discussion among you. Imagine.

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By: another anonymous http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-903982 Sun, 13 Nov 2011 06:47:42 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-903982 Because I have been in this very situation myself.

So have I, anonymous, and i mean it very seriously when I say I’m sorry your colleagues are such a lot of self-absorbed a$$holes. You are quite right that tenure gives them privilege. They should be using it to protect students.

What I did when when I finally realized that a colleague was a serial harasser was feel disgusted with myself for having reasoned the signs away for so long. After that I put my ear to the ground and learned everything I could. I reported and when that went nowhere I moved up the ranks. I was accused of being a trouble maker, I was cornered in an office by a person very much my senior, I was threatened with firing, but you know, whatever. I work at a university–that means part of my job is to take care of students. I don’t want to loose my job but I also want to be able to respect myself.

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-903886 Sun, 13 Nov 2011 02:33:48 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-903886 Good job Emma 9:45 AM !

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2011/11/10/brief-thoughts-on-penn-state/comment-page-2/#comment-903814 Sat, 12 Nov 2011 23:34:34 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17113#comment-903814 Good job Emma.

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