How Penn State made me lose faith in my parents’ generation

Matt Rourke Associated Press People gather in front of the Old Main building for a candlelight vigil on the Penn … Continued

Matt Rourke

Associated Press

People gather in front of the Old Main building for a candlelight vigil on the Penn State campus in State College, Pa., in support of the alleged victims of a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach.

Penn State graduate Thomas L. Day’s column “Penn State, my final loss of faith” reads like a cry for young people to take charge of a troubled nation. According to Day, members of his parents’ generation “have had their time to lead.”

“Time’s up. I’m tired of waiting for them to live up to obligations,” he said.

During a Washington Post live Q&A Monday, many readers at once both appreciated Day’s outrage and challenged his focus on the older generation:

Day made clear that he had respect for not only his own parents but a generation that “stood up and demanded that African Americans be given equal right as citizens.” Day did not intend to “blame an entire generation” but reiterated his disappointment in national and local leaders.

Other readers wanted to know more about Day’s connection with Penn State and the Second Mile foundation. One reader asked about how Penn State can regain public trust. Day answered:

But a new head coach and president are only the beginning for Day. The real key, he says, is introspection: “I am becoming a bit more introspective about my near-obsession with this team. These guys are 18-22 years old. They aren’t getting paid anything near what the market demands for their services. They are, in many ways, kids. Why is a grown man logging onto to see where a 17-year-old is going to college? I think this story should cause all college football fans to take a step back, myself included.”

Here are a few more examples of what readers asked Day:

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  • stevec3

    We need to be clear: this is not a generational failure. It is a cultural scandal. It was bred by the culture of Penn State itself: the deification of Joe Paterno, and the cover up by leading Penn State administrators, including the school president. Penn State was made to be synonymous with Joe Paterno. This was drilled into generations of Penn State students and fans, as was the belief in “the Penn State way” as superior.

    Penn State is not “a good community”, not right now. I has been before, and can be again, but first it must purge this culture from its midst. Penn State must go back to its roots, to before Joe Paterno became a literal god in Happy Valley. Until it does so, Penn State will remain ethically bankrupt, bereft of the moral authority needed to be a university.

    One more point: if this was truly a generational failure, then the main enabler, the person who actually ran Penn State, would not be the 84 year old former football coach.

  • Anonymous