Guest Column: 'We' Includes State College 'Townies,' Too
by Susy Smith Glenn
Gotta get this off my chest:
I just read an article entitled, "We Are – Going to Be OK," by Russell Frank. It is a good article, one which I agree with on almost every point but the last.
That point would be: "We – the students, faculty and staff – are Penn State."
With all respect, Mr. Frank, you seem to have forgotten a very important member of the "We."
This past week, the media trucks have consumed our community. Media reports too numerous to mention are being broadcast from State College.
State College is a town, not a university. Both of my grandfathers owned and operated local businesses in State College. My parents were raised in State College. I was born and raised in State College. My husband was born and raised in State College. Our children were born and raised in State College. We own and operate our own business in State College.
Many, or most, of my immediate and extended family members proudly attended and graduated from Penn State. We all bleed blue and white from academic pride to the thrill of being in the midst of volleyball champions and graduate success rates. Both of my children attend Penn State. My uncle has donated money to have a place at the university where I can go and feel warm feelings about a grandfather who helped build this town but I never knew because he died a month before I was born. I visit a garden named for my grandmother; two others, for my aunts.
I was happy that the artist painted over a portion of the mural on Heister Street. I was heartbroken when someone said that the entire mural should be erased because of the scandal surrounding the university and my community. My mom is portrayed in that mural, along with many others who have gone above and beyond to show their love for the town of State College. That is why the mural exists. It has nothing to do with the university and everything to do with the town of State College. It has everything to do with the people who live in this town 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Year after year after year after year.
Those of us who call the town of State College our home are sad. We pray for the victims. We mourn the loss of our town's innocence and feel a huge sense of betrayal. We talk to one other in the grocery store within the atmosphere of a funeral. Few smiles, even fewer laughs.
Students come and go. Professors and staff come and go. Many staff members commute, and when they leave work, they can go to a place that doesn't include media trucks and national mention of their hometown. I, however, will be one of those who say they were born, and will probably die, in the town of State College.
With all respect, Mr. Frank, you forgot one very, very important part of the "We."
I am a "townie." I am a proud townie who lives in State College and loves Penn State, and, quite honestly, I want my town back.
I am not a student, Penn State staff member or a faculty member, but I am part of the "We."