Talking to Penn State Students about the Scandal

Campus feels heavy, quiet, and ashamed.

What a strange contrast to the beauty and warmth of this fall day in Happy Valley.  It’s as if an undercurrent of sadness and confusion carries us to our classrooms beneath the shadow of that grand football stadium.

For once, nobody cares about the big game on Saturday. 

I ask the freshman how they feel, and they say that they “don’t want this terrible news to be what our school is remembered for.”  College students from other schools tease them on Facebook and on twitter and make jokes about their great university.  Their hearts are broken for the children harmed.  They feel humiliated.  They feel deceived.

How will we move forward?  

Penn State students reply: “The actions of the few don’t reflect the character of us all.” 

My students tell me how hard it is to feel let down by adults.  How have you recovered from that kind of disillusionment?

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  1. My heart goes out to all of you, Heather. What a comfort it must be for your students to have a wise and compassionate professor like you. I think the only way to completely recover is to remember that people – all of us – are but dust. Our feet are clay. We are a cracked and broken mess, and throughout life, we will disappoint each other – in big and small ways – in our brokenness.  If we can look at those who disappoint us with a measure of compassion (I can't begin to imagine what pain such depravity must bring) and pray for God to bring something good out of it all, we become less concerned about our own disappointment, and more concerned about those who have been personally wounded and the lost souls involved.  The same light that revealed the sins of those in darkness also heals. 

    Psalm 34.5 is one of my favorites:  “Those who look to him {the Lord} are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

  2. What wonderful and wise words.  I love Psalm 34, too.  These are sad times around here, but God is faithful to make something good out of evil.