Saturday, July 13, 2013

What I Wish Penn State Would Do

Today Penn State, where I did some of my graduate studies, announced that they would begin making settlement offers to the victims of Jerry Sandusky's sexual assaults against children.

Years ago I read a story in one of the Toronto newspapers - I have not been able to track it down again - wherein a catholic diocese in Canada was being sued by First Nations people who had suffered from abusive policies when they were students in diocesan schools.

The newspaper asked the bishop whether he was concerned about the cost of settling the lawsuits. He replied that if the diocese had to sell all of its property to bring healing to the victims, that was not too high a price to pay. He added "the church isn't buildings but people. In the end, all we need is a table, a cup, and some books - and we really don't even need those."

His attitude is the one I wish my alma mater would adopt. The cost of settling lawsuits may seem high, but when you know you are in the wrong and you know your sins have caused great harm to children, is any price too high to pay?

Because a university similarly shouldn't think of itself as buildings but as a college, a group of people who come together to read and study. And for that all we need are some tables, some books, and maybe a few cups. Not much more. Everything else should be things with which we would gladly part if, in so doing, we can bring healing to those we have harmed, and better become the people we ought to be.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Newspapers in 1854

"[The reading and thinking] class has immensely increased. Owing to the silent revolution which the newspaper has wrought, this class has come in this country to take in all classes. Look into the morning trains...with them, enters the car the humble priest of politics, finance, philosophy, and religion in the shape of the newsboy....Two pence a head his bread of knowledge costs, and instantly the entire rectangular assembly, fresh from their breakfast, are bending as one man to their second breakfast."
R.W. Emerson, 1854.