The Penn State Riot is an Embarrassment to College Students Everywhere

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 9: Students and those in the community fill the streets and react after football head coach Joe Paterno was fired during the Penn State Board of Trustees Press Conference, in downtown Penn State, November 9, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Syracuse University isn't a "rioting" campus.  A couple dozen students flooded the quad to celebrate the election of Barack Obama back in the fall of 2008, but aside from that, we don't have a student body that rises up and treats every national story as a reason to get blackout drunk and walk around Marshall Street, at least not since I've been here.

And I'm fine with that.

The fact that thousands of Penn State students have found it not only acceptable, but necessary, to march on their campus in order to shout for the retainment of Joe Paterno as head football coach and flip over media vans, all while letting everyone possible know that "[they] are Penn State," is truly embarrassing.  

Joe Paterno had a remarkable career at Penn State.  409 total wins, including 24 in bowls.  Two national championships.  No one can make an argument against Paterno's lasting effect on college football.

None of this preclude's him from doing the right thing.

Joe Paterno failed to do the right thing.

The "riots" at Penn State are a demonstration of a disgusting lack of perspective in State College.  We all love college football, it is a large reason why many of you are visiting this website.  But no amount of college football success, no number of years that make up a legendary career is worth compromising the innocence of even one child.

By failing to notify the proper authorities, and becoming complicit in the University's decade-long cover-up of Jerry Sandusky's disgusting streak of pedophilia, Paterno failed a most basic test of human morality.  We may never know the number of children whose assaults could have been prevented by Paterno and others. 

There have been many events that have been worthy of collegiate protest.  Arguing that someone who helped protect a serial pedophile should be absolved of all blame because he won over 400 games is not among them.  

Many are citing the fact that Paterno was fired via phone call as a reason for all of the outrage.  The ultimate irony in all of this is that a simple phone call nine years ago could have prevented this whole situation, and secured Paterno's legacy as the man of high character that we all believed him to be.

Penn State students should be rallying together and finding ways to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.  Instead, they are flipping vans and blaming the media, while burying their heads in the sand. ESPN's reporters on the ground are quoted as saying "80-90% of [the rioters] aren't able to form cogent thoughts." The novelty of the collegiate riot at Penn State is superseding basic human decency.

My peers out on the streets of State College are an embarrassment to college students everywhere.

As the rioters shout "We Are Penn State", I'm glad that I am not.

-Dan Lyons

Syracuse '12

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