Penn State alumni urging the school’s president, Graham Spanier, to fire iconic college football coach Joe Paterno over the Nittany Lions recent losses may want to look at a bigger loser in University Park—the academic program.
Indeed, Paterno himself, who has given millions to the school’s academic program, may want to ask for his money back. In its report on college course catalogues, entitled Comedy and Tragedy 2003-2004, the Young America’s Foundation lists 10 courses at Penn State that students and parents alike might regard as time-killers:
- Gender and Geography
- Reading Black, Reading Feminist
- Lesbian and Gay History
- Race, Gender and Employment
- Philosophy and Feminism
- Philosophy, Race and Diversity
- Feminist Philosophy
- Sexual Identity Over The Lifespan
- Racism and Sexism and;
- Racial and Ethnic Inequality in America
While some might look at the course list and conclude that the school is attempting to make its academic offerings more diverse and inclusive, the manner in which the school has treated visiting speakers shows us that something less than tolerance rules the day in University Park.
Former Campus Report editor Eric Langborgh covered the reception that black conservative Star Parker received on campus under Spanier’s watch. Hecklers disrupted Parker’s speech and a school official denounced her in a way that should have made feminists on that campus react with something more vocal than the silence they delivered.
“You would think that a prestigious school like Penn State would at least teach their students common courtesy,” Parker said. “If we get to the point where students cannot hear both points of view in a calm environment, then we’ve lost something of our future.”
Parker had a good point. Outside of Joe Paterno’s locker room, civility is hard to find on campus. During Parker’s visit, the director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Penn State, Lawrence W. Young, showed his own civilized behavior by calling the Christian activist “the ideological whore.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education called the potential firing of Paterno, “Mr. Spanier’s greatest challenge since becoming Penn State’s president nine years ago.” Actually, Spanier has faced other challenges, and usually ducked them.
For example, there was C***Fest, a November 18, 2000 event on campus that Langborgh also covered for the Campus Report. Although campus security did nothing to stop the graphic displays of lesbianism, replete with nudity, in the demonstration, the rent-a-cops did try to keep Langborgh from covering the show, which was put on by Penn State’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance.
All in all, Paterno’s conduct and performance during any of the five decades he has toiled on the job at Penn State contrasts quite favorably to Spanier’s tenure in Nittanyland.