On Campus, Low Turnout for Penn State Students Watching Jerry Sandusky Sentencing
It was a typical day at the HUB-Robeson Center on Tuesday morning. Students were lined up across the first-floor lounge registering for the THON 5K, doing homework, studying and sleeping between classes.
The infamous “big TV” was set to its usual news channel, and only about a dozen students sat closest to it. Many were scrolling through their phones or had Twitter open on their laptops in anticipation of an event that had been in the works since last November.
At about 10:15 a.m., that moment came.
“Sandusky Sentencing” came across the screen in large, bold lettering, while pictures and video of the ex-Penn State assistant coach being escorted to a police car were shown. A reporter from outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte explained that the 68-year-old man convicted of abusing and molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period would serve at least 30 years in prison but no more than 60 years.
Noel Purcell, a sophomore, was pleased with this sentence.
“This is just about as good as it gets,” he said. “When you consider the guy’s age, it’s a life sentence.”
Purcell explained that being at home during the duration of the trial was hard because he felt it was his position as a Penn State student to give perspective on the scandal to family and friends who didn’t attend the university.
Sophomore Marissa Gutierrez just felt thankful to be able to watch the results of Tuesday’s sentencing with fellow classmates, even though there weren’t a lot of students at the HUB when the news broke.
“It’s just nice watching this with other Penn Staters,” she said. “We’re all in the same boat.”
She called the sentencing “expected” given that what Sandusky did was “pretty unforgivable.”
For freshman Emily Gatautis, the sentencing felt a little different.
“I was here for my FTCAP (Penn State’s First-Year Testing, Consulting, and Advising Program) on June 22 when he was found guilty,” she said. “There was a news crew at my hotel. You could just feel the buzz around here.”
Gatautis said that she had friends taking summer classes at the university who used social media to document when Sandusky was found guilty of 45 of the 48 charges he faced and when the Joe Paterno statue was taken down a month later.
“Everything that happened, I could already feel how much it affected me even though I wasn’t here as a student yet," she said.
Gutierrez hopes the hype of the scandal will die down for a while.
“I think we’ve moved on,” she said. “Penn State has definitely come back from this and we’ll continue to.”