Examining Graham Spanier's Place at the University of Nebraska

Joe Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium was taken down because he didn't do enough when presented with allegations of abuse by Jerry Sandusky. Graham Spanier, the former Penn State president and University of Nebraska chancellor, has been indicted on charges perjury, obstruction, failure to report, and endangering welfare of children.

"Graham Spanier, Time Curley, and Gary Schultz engaged in a repeated pattern of behavior that evidenced a willful disregard for the safety and well-being of minor children on the Penn State campus."

-The grand jury indictment of Graham Spanier

Days after the indictment of former Penn State President and former UNL Chancellor Graham Spanier, students sit in the Reading Room of Nebraska's Love Library probably unaware of a portrait of Spanier hanging above them.

Should the University of Nebraska continue to display a portrait of Spanier?

Sunday July 22nd was like a scene from a revolution. Joe Paterno's statue, the statue of an iconic and seemingly infallible fixture in college football came down. Unlike the day it was put up, there was no fanfare or fancy ceremony. Instead, because Joe Paterno didn't do enough to stop a now convicted pedophile from sexually abusing children, his statue came down hidden behind a fence and wrapped in a blanket.

Paterno was not charged with a crime. With his passing we may never know if he would have been charged with a crime. Spanier, however, has been charged. The indictment alleges that he hid information of an earlier investigation into Sandusky's actions, failed to report incidents of sexual abuse, and knowingly lied to a grand jury. If the allegations are true, Spanier chose to protect the reputation and name of Penn State over innocent children.

In November of 2011 current UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman sent an email to the faculty and staff addressing failures that occurred at Penn State.

"Nothing can be more central to a civilized society than protecting children from abuse. For those of us who are parents or grandparents, the circumstances alleged were more personal and more chilling, but all of us share concern for the victims and an outrage for their suffering."

-An excerpt from Perlman's email to faculty and staff

Spanier was the person charged with standing up for the victims when they couldn't stand up for themselves. When everyone else was intoxicated with the success of a football program he was the one with the power to stand up to it. He didn't.

Spanier's portrait differs from the statue of Paterno. The portrait is not meant to honor career achievements. Paterno's statue stood outside Beaver Stadium serving as a celebration of his success and character. Spanier's portait hangs on a wall alongside portraits of other former Nebraska chancellors serving to document the history of that position.

Even though the statue of Paterno and portrait of Spanier are different in their reasons for being displayed, they are similar in one thing. Neither should be on display. The Penn State scandal is not a sports scandal. It's a life scandal. If the allegations against Spanier are true, he failed Penn State in the worst way possible.

Should an administrator that failed his school, his students, and most importantly, innocent children still be on display?

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