We support a new effort launched by the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County in response to the NCAA sanctions levied on Penn State — provided the whole message is communicated and embraced.
Posters are popping up around the county, each bearing the open-ended phrase “Together we are one — moving forward.”
The campaign plays off the traditional Beaver Stadium cheer: “We are … Penn State.”
It also proclaims that as members of this community we should work together to respond to our shared challenges in a positive manner.
But for us, the value of the campaign hinges on those final two words: “Moving forward.”
That’s why we urged the committee to add them to the posters.
Any campaign that fails to look ahead will not succeed.
Like CBICC Executive Director Vern Squier, committee member David Nevins and others, we do recognize a need to respond.
The Jerry Sandusky scandal, the Freeh report and the NCAA sanctions have shaken our region and cast us in a negative light with respect to the outside world.
“The media portrayed the incident as being something that defines the entire community,” Nevins told CDT reporter Matt Morgan. “We feel we are defined by so much more.” Yes we are.
And, ultimately, we will be defined by our realization that bad things did happen here, by our resolve to make sure that such things never happen again, and steps we take “together” to react in a meaningful way.
That could include supporting the effort to build a children’s advocacy center in Centre County.
Together could mean getting involved with programs such as “Stewards of Children,” launched by the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, the Youth Service Bureau, the United Way and the YMCA to train residents to recognize and react to potential child abuse in our midst.
It will mean getting behind Penn State’s efforts to meet the recommendations of the Freeh report, including last week’s athletics integrity agreement, and continuing to support important programs and events at the university.
Many more challenges lie ahead. Penn State will face numerous lawsuits from Sandusky’s victims that could mean millions and millions in damages.
Sometime this fall, Sandusky will return to court for sentencing, reopening the wounds of the trial.
Former administrators Gary Schultz and Tim Curley will stand trial in January, charged with perjury and failure to report a crime.
Several investigations continue, including a U.S. Department of Education probe of the university’s compliance with the Clery Act concerning the Sandusky allegations.
This ordeal is a long way from over. There will still be many moments when we disagree about what constitutes truth, where blame should fall, what penalties are fair.
But together, we can navigate that minefield and emerge smarter, safer and stronger.
Looking back would only serve to stall our progress, and would send the wrong message to that outside world.
“We want to focus everybody’s attention on what a great community this is,” Nevins said. Yes we do.
And more importantly, what a great community we will be — moving forward.