Obviously the allegations that a Penn State football coach sexually abused young men participating in programs operated by a charity he operated, and that Penn State officials failed to act or report on evidence of this abuse, are horrible and inexcusable. And they do raise important questions about the role of sports in college culture and the prevalence of differing standards of justice for “elites.”
That said, I can’t help also seeing the Penn State story in light of the horrendous track record that higher education institutions have in dealing with allegations of sexual assault on their campuses. As has been widely documented, colleges frequently encourage victims to work through the college disciplinary system rather than reporting assaults to the police, impose ridiculously lenient punishments on rapists, allow repeat offenders to continue on campus without taking action to protect potential victims, and flout federal requirements regarding reporting incidences of sexual violence on campus. Gosh, could the fact that college officials are used to operating in an environment where this is tolerated have anything to do with the Penn State scandal?
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.