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Penn State Scandal: Riot for Joe Paterno a Permanent Black Eye for University

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 10, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Police try to control students and those in the community as they 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, in the early morning hours on November 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Paterno and Spanier have lost their positions amid allegations that former former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

When Penn State students took to the streets to riot in support of now-former head football coach Joe Paterno, the university had lost any control that it might have had. For lack of a better phrase, the inmates are now running the asylum. 

There was absolutely no reason for this riot to happen. Paterno is a legendary figure in Happy Valley, and nothing, apparently, was going to change that. 

The students that took part in the riots tried to act like the media made Paterno a scapegoat in light of the allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. 

An article in the Christian Science Monitor about the riots contained a quote from Nicole Atlak, a freshman at Penn State, about her thoughts on Paterno getting fired.

"Absolutely disgusted. From a student's perspective, it's like where do we go from here? We no longer have a president. We no longer have a 45-year legacy."

That sentence says so much about where these students and the university are at right now.

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Penn State football is such a part of the fabric of the society in that area that these students don't see the bigger picture. That speaks volumes about the job that the university has done with its chain of command. 

They say time heals all wounds, and Penn State better hope that holds true with this situation. Because the more that students at the university continue to talk, the more they bury the Penn State name and all that it was supposed to stand for. 

The students are what make a university special and unique. Right now, the actions of the students at Penn State are not doing anyone any favors. They need to take a step back and realize that what's going on here is bigger than Joe Paterno and bigger than Penn State. 

The allegations against Jerry Sandusky are horrific and disgusting. That should be the story—not what is happening with a football coach or a 45-year legacy. These students need to take a hard look at what exactly they are rioting for. 

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