Since the release of the Freeh report and the Paterno family's clumsy attempts to discredit it, the statue of Joe Paterno has become an all-encompassing flashpoint in the struggle between critics of the university and PSU loyalists. Bobby Bowden wants it torn down. The Penn State Board of Trustees (and really, PSUBOT is the perfect acronym for them) has decided to keep it up. This happens in any scandal: something like taking a statue down becomes the de facto totem for the whole thing, when in reality it represents only the smallest of gestures.
Anyway, with everyone fighting over the fate of the statue, I thought to myself: Hey, shouldn't someone be guarding that thing? What's to keep an aspiring Bart Simpson from sneaking out in the dead of night and taking a hacksaw to that statue's neckline? Surely, someone at PSU would want that JoePa statue protected at all costs. So I decided to call the university and see if anyone was in charge of standing between bronze JoePa and hurled feces.
I called the Penn State police department, which referred me to the university's public information office. There, a woman named Chris referred me to the university's Office of Physical Plant. But before she redirected my call, she told that she had walked by the statue this morning and hadn't seen anyone guarding it.
When I got through to the physical plant, a woman named Candace put me on hold and called the police department. When she got back on the line, she told me that someone HAD been guarding the statue as of Sunday (which matches with this report of officers working eight-hour shifts at the statue in the wake of the Freeh report), but not since. She then referred me to Tyrone Parham, the PSU chief of police. Parham has not responded to my voicemail or the email I sent. (It's worth noting that everyone I spoke to on the phone was super nice, even if I could sense a bit of fatigue kick in the second I dropped the name "Paterno.")
Now obviously, it would be hard to deface an unguarded Paterno statue; there are plenty of loyal Penn State folks walking around who would do terrible things to anyone who dared attempt such shenanigans. I bet Jay Paterno himself is waiting in a nearby shrub, ready to club people with a big meaty fist should they try to fuck with his old man. If you live in the PSU area and you've seen evidence of the statue under guard, shoot me an email. We'd like to talk to whoever's on duty, if we can.