On November 5, 2011, a scandal began to unravel at Penn State University. Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was arrested on 45 counts of sexual abuse against children in our community — boys whose trust he broke in the most horrendous way imaginable.
You likely know the rest of it: the removal of university president Graham Spanier, the firing and eventual death of iconic football coach Joe Paterno, the damning Freeh Report and subsequent NCAA sanctions.
What you might not know — or may know all too well — is what it felt like to be a Penn Stater or a resident of “Happy Valley” at the moment the scandal broke. This book tracks the Penn State community’s reaction to unfolding events as they happened, in timeline style and across various written platforms, in the first few months of the scandal. Taken together, these reactions and reflections capture a moment in time and show a community struggling to answer the question of what exactly “We Are...Penn State” means in this harsh new light.
WHAT IS THIS BOOK?
Presented in chronological order and comprised of essays, blog posts and news articles written by Penn Staters as they reacted in the moment of the scandal, this edited collection is a window into a community struggling to make sense of these terrible events.
The book includes work that originally appeared in national publications like Grantland, the New York Times, and the Utne Reader, Penn State-centric markets like Black Shoe Diaries, Onward State, Penn Stater Magazine, and StateCollege.com, and literary sites Barrelhouse, The Rumpus, and We Who Are About to Die, as well as personal blogs and social media. Contributors to the anthology include current students, faculty, alumni, residents of State College, and others affected by the scandal.
When all is said and done, there are going to be many, many books written about this scandal. This is the only one we know of that honestly presents what it felt like from the inside — from people who grew up, went to school, go to school, teach, work and live here — during those painful, disorienting, initial days.
WHAT ISN'T THIS BOOK?
You will not find excuses or explanations here. These are neither manifestos nor rants.
Though of course these topics are broached in various ways, the pieces included do not focus on taking sides or making definitive stands about Joe Paterno or the Board of Trustees or anything that happened in a boardroom or administrative office or on a football field. Instead, the book presents the raw, conflicted emotions that a lot of us felt as things began to fall apart.
Following are links to several essays that are included in the full book.
Growing Up Penn State, by Michael Weinreb. Originally published in Grantland, November 8, 2011.
A Classroom Discussion on the Week's Events, by Lori Shontz. Originally published in the Penn Stater magazine, November 11, 2011.
Notes from Inside a Burst Bubble: On the Ground in State College, PA, by Dave Housley. Originally published in Barrelhouse, November 11, 2011.
After the Verdict, We Watch Fireworks, by Sheila Squillante. This is the book's epilogue. Originally published in The Rumpus, July 12, 2011.
WHAT DO WE NEED?
A total budget of $2,000 will allow us to print 500 copies of the book and pay for the rights to re-print some of the essays we’ve included. Because of our experience and connections within the indie publishing world, we have access to printers that can produce a reasonably-priced, professional-looking product. This will be a beautiful book you can be proud to be associated with.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?
We will not make a dime off this project.
Our writers have all volunteered their work and will not receive monetary compensation. The editors will receive no compensation.
Any funding we collect beyond the cost of creating the books themselves, and paying for permissions, will go straight to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Your commitment of $25 will get you a copy of this professionally-edited and printed collection.
Any donation at or beyond the $50 level will get you the book, a donation to RAINN, and your name printed on a special community acknowledgments page in the book itself.
We are not going to offer any other special rewards or incentives in this campaign — no bells and whistles, no t-shirts or coffee mugs — choosing instead to have all proceeds go directly to RAINN.
A Note About Paypal and "Normal" Credit Card Transactions (Both of which will work here): When you click on a donation level, you'll then be asked to add your shipping information. The button to move on to complete your payment will say "Check out with Paypal." Click on that button to pay with either paypal or with a credit card. From there, it will all be pretty much like a normal credit card transaction.
WHO ARE WE?
Our writers are Penn State-affiliated journalists, professors and writers with impressive credentials and national audiences.
They are also students — eighteen-year-olds in their first semester at their dream university, in a freshman composition classroom whose curriculum, even before the scandal hit, was asking them to consider the question of Who are we at Penn State?
They are friends and parents and State College business owners whose social media pages blew up and became commenting battlegrounds or spaces for simple laments.
They are alumni who left Penn State behind for professional lives, whose feelings for their alma mater were complicated, or thrown suddenly into doubt, by the events that transpired.
The editors both work for Penn State and live in State College. We are raising our small children here. We are professional writers and editors and believe in the power of writing to both clarify and complicate issues. We also believe in the power of language to bring healing, and this, ultimately, is why we have collected these pieces and are working hard to put them into your hands.
Dave Housley is the author of the short story collections "If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home" (forthcoming from Dzanc Books), and "Ryan Seacrest is Famous." His work has appeared in The Collagist, Hobart, Mid-American Review, Quarterly West, Wigleaf, Dzanc's Best of the Web, and elsewhere in print and online. He's one of the co-founders and editors of Barrelhouse magazine, and of the DC and Philadelphia-based writer's conference Conversations and Connections. He was born in nearby Bellefonte, and grew up in Central Pennsylvania. He works in web strategy for Penn State and lives in State College with his wife and young son.
Sheila Squillante is a poet and essayist and the author of four chapbooks of poetry. Her work has appeared widely in print and online venues including The Rumpus, Brevity, Quarterly West, Phoebe, No Tell Motel, Glamour Magazine, The Penn Stater Magazine and elsewhere. She is a 2002 graduate of Penn State’s MFA program in creative writing, and is now a senior lecturer for the Department of English. She lives in State College with her husband, where they are raising two children, ages five and seven.
We Are... So Grateful For Your Support!
This book is a labor of love and restitution for us all — editors, writers, and readers.
Dave & Sheila
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