Archive for July 12th, 2012
The report issued today about the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal — and the egregious institutional failures at Penn State that permitted Sandusky to continue to act as a sexual predator for years — is a thoroughly damning document. Investigators led by former FBI director Louis Freeh conducted more than 400 interviews and found from the evidence they collected that University leaders showed a shocking disregard for the interests of Sandusky’s victims.
In prepared statement, Freeh said: “Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.” Instead, Freeh states, former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and former head football coach Joe Paterno, upon learning of the infamous incident involving Sandusky and a young boy in a shower, concealed facts, consciously decided not to report Sandusky’s conduct to authorities, and made no attempt to even identify — much less help — the young boy who was the victim of Sandusky’s depredation. The report also implicates Penn State’s former president, who was ousted in the wake of the scandal, and the University’s Board of Trustees. According to the CNN article linked above, however, none of the Board’s 32 trustees plans to resign, notwithstanding their failure to exercise the oversight that is the reason for the Board’s existence in the first place.
The report is just another disturbing chapter in what has become an increasingly troubling story — not just of the appalling criminal conduct of one man, but of a previously respected academic institution that completely lost its way and was unable to behave responsibly, morally, and ethically when confronted with evidence of that criminal conduct. With every revelation of cover-ups and blame-shifting by Penn State officials and employees, the focus shifts away from the vile Sandusky and toward the compromised and corrupted University. The fact that none of the Penn State trustees is willing to do the decent thing, and resign in recognition of their failures, is just another sign of Penn State’s fundamental accountability problems.
If I were a Penn State alum or student, or even a citizen of the state that allows the University to carry its name, I would insist on a thorough housecleaning that swept out the University administration, from trustees on down, and brought in people who know that, as leaders of an important academic and cultural institution, their first duty must be to act as responsible members of society. Apparently, that’s a lesson that needs learning in State College, Pennsylvania.
I take Penny and Kasey for a good walk in the morning — our standard route is more than two miles long — and another good walk when I get home at night. But after we’ve both spent a full day indoors, they’re as happy as I am to hang outside on a pretty summer evening. Penny flops down on the grass and takes in the view, whereas Kasey roams back and forth, snuffling her way across the lawn in search of the scent of the not-so-elusive New Albany wild hare.
Every Thursday, the houses in our neighborhood put their trash out by the curb for pick-up. When I walk the dogs on a Thursday morning, I’m always amazed by the cumulative output, from just one neighborhood in just one suburb of just one American city.
My goal therefore is to make sure that our house sets out the smallest amount possible. I toss every bottle, aluminum can, milk jug, and other plastic item in their recycling bin. I break down even the most sturdily constructed cardboard box and throw every stray scrap of paper — newspapers, brochures, mail-order catalogs, and junk mail included — into the paper recycling container. I put food scraps into the garbage disposal and rake yard waste into the beds behind our shrubs. I know these efforts are small, but the multiplication effect means that little efforts can have large consequences.
In any case, I feel better knowing that our garbage footprint is as small as possible. Some years ago I had a case involving landfills that addressed how they are constructed and operated. I learned how they are lined, and capped, and how leachate — great name for the fluid that inevitably seeps out of crushed garbage, isn’t it? — is collected. Landfills are carefully regulated and engineered, but the fact remains that they are permanent pockets of garbage buried across the landscape that will forever limit how those locations can be used. I don’t want our little household to contribute unnecessarily to their proliferation.