Penn State Scandal: Why the Students' Reaction to Joe Paterno's Firing Was Awful

Joe Rapolla Jr.Featured ColumnistNovember 10, 2011

After Joe Paterno was fired on Wednesday night, students and residents in State College, Pennsylvania took to the streets surrounding the campus to openly voice their disagreement with the decision. 

While it was reported explicitly by most reporters who were at the scene that the protests were "largely peaceful," it was clear that a number of distraught Penn State fans took to violent protesting. 

Among chanting and burning newspapers, a group of protesters flipped over a news van. The protesting got so intense that riot police had to be called in and a formal dispersal order had to be filed. According to an article on CNN.com, the crowd had largely dispersed by 2:00 a.m., ET. 

While the crowd was justifiably distraught that Paterno, the longtime head-coach and de facto leader of the Penn State athletics program, was fired, their reaction only made things worse for their already disheartened university. 

Many of them held up signs saying "We Love You Joe" or "We Are Penn State," yet their actions said otherwise. 

In acting like miscreants, they sent a bold message that they had zero sympathy for the victims of this report and equally had zero understanding of the fact that this incident is about so much more than football. 

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Paterno was not fired because Penn State had anything against him. He was fired because, as a high-ranking employee of Penn State, he made a major, and somewhat unforgivable lapse in judgement. He told athletic director Tim Curley that something of a "sexual nature" occurred between Sandusky and the boy, but never contacted police or followed up.

Paterno will always be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in college football history, and while this ending to his career is disappointing to say the least, people will ultimately remember Paterno for the coach that he was. 

This is an understandably tough time for Penn State, and the students should definitely be pitied. They do need to stand strong and stand united, yet to do this, they need to, as a community, accept this decision. 

Tipping over cars and then taking pictures of it to upload to Facebook is sickening. Penn State has been gravely embarrassed, and they were just embarrassed further by the actions of the rowdy students on Wednesday night. 

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