Letter to the editor | Back off on moving forward

July 24, 2013 

I attended Rep. Scott Conklin’s July 17 forum on legislation intended to reform Penn State’s board of trustees, where I heard board Chairman Keith Masser and Vice Chairman Paul Silvis repeat the now-familiar refrain, “we need to move forward.”

To “move forward” one must know how it differs from “back.”

When board leaders refer to documented evidence of malfeasance as “speculation” about a past that should be left behind, they show a staggering lack of insight into what they should be moving us away from and leading us toward.

Board and Old Main leadership consistently refer to the “Sandusky scandal” as if it were a singular event that took place at a moment in time. It was neither.

Jerry Sandusky victimized children, and Old Main had good reason to be concerned and vigilant — for 13 years between 1998 and 2011.

It was longstanding failures — not momentary lapses — in university leadership and structural problems in governance and oversight that enabled the victimization of children for all these years.

By honoring those who were responsible for university governance and oversight during those years — naming them emeritus trustees and welcoming their continued participation in board business, the board denies the past, dishonors the victims of their failings, mocks the idea of accountability and evidences a shameful lack of integrity.

By refusing to acknowledge their failings and hold themselves accountable, the board shows us that it is not forward, but backward to the status quo ante, that they seek to take us.

Lee Samuel Finn

State College

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