Jeff Byers: Cleaning Up the Problem
Penn State is determined to be the safest university the planet has ever seen and I, for one, applaud the efforts.
You may have seen over the weekend that the newly transparent university earlier this summer quietly implemented a new policy that will limit access to the recreational facilities to those with valid university IDs only. So, only students, faculty and staff will now be able to use Rec Hall or the IM Building.
But, the university is in the process of taking an unprecedented move to make sure that child abuse will never again occur in any of its showering facilities on campus. Penn State is going to change its hygiene culture, which may have contributed to the scandal.
All showers will be removed from campus. While this will be an inconvenience and nuisance for some (and really no adjustment at all for others), it is just another necessary step to ensure the safety of our students and faculty, according to university officials.
“We accept the recommendations the Freeh Group unconditionally,” President Rodney Erickson explained. “The group found that all of the known incidents on campus with Jerry Sandusky involved the former assistant coach, children and showers.
"We’ve removed the coach, prohibited children from being on campus unless they are accompanied and monitored by at least three trained adults and it just makes sense that we take the other factor out of the equation. This will involve quite an adjustment for our students but we think that safety needs to be our primary focus moving forward.”
Penn Staters For Responsible Hygiene issued a statement calling the removal of the showers an “unprecedented step that should have been brought before the full Board for a vote before being agreed upon. There will be many who will be unfairly punished by this action and we call for a complete review of the matter.”
“I’ve been showering daily since I was, like, in junior high,” said Mark Johnson, a sophomore from Lancaster. “I don’t it’s fair that I have to find somewhere else to shower now, but I will find a place. I need to shower or I just don’t feel clean.”
Penn State Acting Athletic Director Dave Joyner realizes the lack of showering facilities will most affect student-athletes, who regularly work out and thus sweat. But Joyner says the removal of the showers was “necessary and just and will help the university move forward and become an even better place. We just had to make sure that no kids were abused in showers on campus in the future.”
Head football coach Bill O’Brien says not showering after practices and games will be quite an adjustment but “that’s what we do as coaches and players, we adjust. We accept that this is what the university believes is best and we’ll move forward. Listen, the whole situation here at Penn State stinks so what’s a little more stink?”
According to university statistics, some students were showering three or four times a day.
“I had a roommate who showered in the morning and at night and she didn’t even work out at all,” said Brittany Michaels, a senior from Tyrone. "She never even broke a sweat and sometimes she’d even shower a third time during the afternoon between classes.”
Gov. Tom Corbett said: “We just had to think of the children. That’s all I reminded the university about when they asked for my thoughts on removing the showers.”
The governor was asked if the showers should have been removed earlier and he said “I don’t think now is the time for second-guessing. We got 45 of 48 convictions against Sandusky and this is a world-class university and it needs to move forward.”
The NCAA believes removing the showers will help Penn State put more emphasis on academics.
“For too long, Penn State fostered a culture of cleanliness, not only for adults but for its children as well and it really prevailed over all else. This will help foster an environment where the university can rebuild its culture of academics and not get so caught up in hygiene,” NCAA President Mark Emmert asserted.
“The removal of the showers is a corrective measure that we felt strongly had to be taken,” Emmert continued.
When asked about the existence of showers on other campuses, Emmert said only that the NCAA “will look into that.”
“We also think raping boys in the shower is wrong and you can quote me on that,” Jim Delaney weighed in on a conference call. “We think everyone is responding appropriately and we really think raping boys in the shower is wrong! That’s just not what the Big Ten stands for."
President Erickson also confirmed that the water bill decreases at Penn State will more than cover the costs of removing all showers across the campus.
- Jeff Byers: Real Healing Can Begin With Time - Aug. 7, 2012