PSU’s New President Erickson, appointed a month ago as Interim, but who has since suddenly been named “Permanent President” without the national search PSU Board members promised, appeared before the Pennsylvania legislature yesterday, repeatedly guaranteeing PSU’s solid commitment to a “culture of openness.”
Openness is a little hard to define; sometimes you just know it when you see it. But with respect to public universities, some fundamental elements of openness are easy to define. And that’s because every other public college or university in the country is subject to a “Right to Know” law which outlines in great detail the exact nature and exent of openness to public inquiry and review (including public access to a broad range of documents) that most every municipal, state and federal agency is also subject to. Right-to-know laws are the gold standard of openness. There’s no way around it.
And let’s be plain: Erickson should be saying, “I want to make PSU the BEST at openness,” Instead, he won’t even commit to the kind of openness that every other campus has.” Ergo: Erickson and his buddies on the Board (all of whom pre-date the scandal-explosion, and have been part and parcel of the PSU culture of secrecy for years) must have some things they want to hide.
But here’s what Erikson had the audacity to tell the legislators yesterday, as reported in the Post-Gazette: “Regarding the right-to-know legislation [according to State Rep. Hanna’s comments] Mr. Erickson
“did not dismiss it out of hand, nor did he endorse it. He thinks it’s a process that needs to work its way through.”
Someone needs to ask this joker Erickson, who is a member of the “old-boy” network desperately scrambling to cover every track (and there are many) which lead them all toward some long-standing knowledge of, and acquiescence in, Sandusky’s continuing presence at PSU and Second Mile, and Sandusky’s continuing access to juveniles with whom he could cultivate inappropriate and allegedly sexual relations, a few questions:
1. Would you agree, Mr. Erickson, with the notion that having PSU conduct a national search for a permanent successor to the fired Mr. Spanier would be one solid indicator of the PSU Board’s real commitment to “openness?
2. Mr. Erikson, are you aware that your summarily removed predecessor, the disgraced Mr. Spanier (who you have allowed to go on full-pay sabattical for a year) lobbied hard – and successfully – for that unique-in-the-country PSU special exemption from Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law?
3. Would you agree, Mr. Erikson, that this PSU scandal — which has damaged PSU’s reputation, and which most observers have called the “biggest college sports scandal ever” is at least partially the result of a culture of secrecy at PSU?
4. Do you agree, Mr. Erikson, that this mega-scandal is at least partially the result of PSU’s “special status” amongst all universities which allowed it to be exempt from Right to Know laws which have created openness at every other public campus?
5. Do you agree, Mr. Erickson, that the Right-to-Know laws are a basic building block of any effort to encourage a new and necessary culture of openness at PSU?
Someone needs to call Erickson’s bluff. But it’s not just his bluff. This is one more piece of the jigsaw, and the clear emerging picture is one of continuing cover-up by PSU’s current BOT and President, all of whom were on the scene before the scandal broke. Penn State is NOT on a course to encourage openness. Erickson should affirmatively endorse giving the Pennsylvania public the same “Right-to-know” which every other state has. And Penn State still needs to clean house. It’s all still dirty