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Penn State Crisis: The Failure of the University

November 10, 2011   ·   0 Comments

Source: NYTX

Joe Paterno Penn State Football Coach

NYTX Editor Chris Spannos interviews former Penn State professor Henry Giroux about the Penn State Crisis by using three New York Times articles published Thursday, November 10th as the reference point for discussing media, the culture of silence,  and the institutional crisis of higher education.

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Times articles referenced in this interview are from the front page "Paterno Is Finished at Penn State, and President Is Out" by Mark Viera, "An Aspiring Coach in the Middle of a Scandal" by Bill Pennington and Nate Schweber, and "Investigation of Sandusky in 1998 Raises Questions" by Nate Schweber.

Giroux's books include the recently-released "Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?" and "The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex." He said today: "There is a lot of talk about the culture of silence as if it is simply an offshoot of the need to protect the wealth and power of those in control of Penn State's football empire, but the fact of the matter is the real issue is that higher education has been corrupted by big money, big sports, corporate power, and the search for profits for some time, except that in the age of unabashed free market fundamentalism, it has gotten worse. The issue here is not simply about a morally depraved culture of silence, it is about a university surrendering its mission as a democratic public sphere where students learn to think critically, hold power accountable, and connect knowledge and social relations to the social costs they enact. A university needs real leadership for this type of task, not managerial clones who confuse education with training and engaged research with Pentagon and corporate handouts. Penn State is now a managerial model of corporate influence and power and the arrogance and bad faith this model breeds is evident in the ways in which everyone acted in the face of this crisis, from Paterno to its ethically challenged president, Graham Spanier. What the public should be asking about this crisis is not what has happened to Penn State but how have so many universities arrived at a similar place in time and history when they are just like any other mega factory and slick shopping mall, divorced from any viable notion of learning and, as we see with Penn State University, any viable sense of ethical and moral responsibility." Giroux holds the Global TV Network chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada.

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