Where are the documents?

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Education, Non-AZ
Tags: , ,

I have two important things to say about the Penn State scandal involving Asst Coach Sandusky and charges of molestation and sexual assault.

While I am irritated to no end that the student population got drunk and went on a rampage when they found out Head Coach Paterno had been fired, I was not surprised.  I went to high school in central PA and many of my high school friends attended Penn State.  As a teenager, I was surrounded every Fall by fanatic fans, many alumni, that spent their entire weekends on the games, leaving  even their children behind for me to babysit while they went off to cheer, drink and generally party hardy at all the home games (and occasional away games that were within driving distance).  Their support of Paterno was nuts and far too much of Penn State’s identity was wrapped up in the coach and their football team.  So, no I wasn’t surprised by the students’ reactions.  I was, however, incredibly disappointed in them.  To think that they value Paterno and their winning football tradition over the well being and innocence of children is disgusting to me.

The second point I wanted to make was that while reading the Grand Jury presentment I have to say that something very important occurred to me, as I am sure it occurred to the prosecutor and jurors.  I used to be a Dean (yes, I held a respected management title, go figure) at a for-profit college.  Since I was responsible for the well-being of my students, for the proper management of my professors and for upholding all applicable federal and state laws, I was extremely careful to document everything I did.  In particular, because of the litigious nature of employment relations, I documented employee interaction with zeal.  If someone had reported that one of my staff (administrator, professor, lab tech, etc, etc) had inappropriate sexual interaction of any kind with a minor either on campus or off, I would have documented the hell out of the situation in preparation for firing that staff member, much less have taken it to the police.  Setting aside the responsibility of informing legal authorities, my point is that administrative documentation within an academic institution is assumed for even the most minor of incidents much less something with such horrible moral, legal and and financial implications.

So where was the documentation of all the meetings?  The Grand Jury Presentment indicates that there were quite a few meetings between an eye witness and administrators (the President, Paterno, the head of the Board, etc) but there is nothing said about documentation of those meetings?  Why not?  The absence of documentation says loud and clear that there was an effort on the part of administrators to keep Sandusky’s behavior hidden.  Their main goal wasn’t to stop it or protect the victims as should have been the case, but to protect the University and the football team by hiding it.   That’s why there was no documentation and what makes it so damning.



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