(Photo: REUTERS / Pat Little)
The student riot over the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State did not sit well with a faith leader at the university who spoke with The Christian Post about misleading representations of the overall campus community and how recent events have led to an openness to faith on campus.
Adam Jepson, associate director of college ministries at Penn State University, told CP the riots were "a poor representation of Penn State pride."
Some PSU students rioted in the street in uproar over the dismissal of legendary head football coach Joe Paterno. Protestors overturned a media van and broke car windows. Their rowdy behavior continued throughout Wednesday night, when Paterno's dismissal was announced.
Students gathered on Paterno’s lawn and chanted "We love Joe," "We want Joe" and the ubiquitous, "We are Penn State."
Paterno was fired Nov. 9 for the cover up of sex abuse crimes committed by former PSU defense coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was arrested Nov. 5 on 40 federal and misdemeanor charges related to the alleged abuse of eight boys over the course of 15 years.
There were reportedly occasional unflattering chants directed at Sandusky, but various reporters covering the riots described those chants as short and perhaps insignificant when compared to the ones about Paterno.
Jepson described the riot as "foolish." The campus ministry leader citied unorganized, large crows of angry, frustrated anonymous young people with some under the influence of alcohol as a dangerous situation on many levels.
Speaking of the riots, he told CP, "It was a knee jerk reaction."
Jepson, a State College native, spoke of the area and college with high regard. PSU is especially close to his heart as he met his wife at the college and both of his parents are also PSU alumni. Jepson graduated from PSU in August 2010 with a degree in human development and family studies. His position as associate director of college ministries enables him to interact with students on a daily basis through meetings, Bible studies and outreach.
Despite the rioting, Jepson has reportedly noticed a growing interest in faith in his analysis of campus reactions to scandals.
"It times in times of crisis, people consider faith. They are forced to think about morals," he said.
For example, the preacher featured on TheWillardPreacher.com regularly discusses faith around campus as part of his job at a local Greek Orthodox Church.
"I've walked by Wednesday and I've never seen so many students stop and listen to him," said Jepson, who found the out of the ordinary crowd fascinating. He said it illustrates one way students around campus have demonstrated how they are trying to make sense of the child sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the university.
Jepson also attended a prayer vigil Wednesday where hundred of students and community members prayed for a revival on campus around the time the riot took place.
"People are questioning and trying to figure things out," he said.
The campus faith leader is employed through Alliance Christian Fellowship, an organization that seeks to become sold-out followers of Jesus Christ through worship, edification, fellowship and prayer, as noted on its website.