If you are unfamiliar with the specifics of the Penn State scandal, you may be under the impression that the real victims are the children who were allegedly raped and otherwise abused by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. But you couldn't be more wrong! The real victims are Penn State alumni. More specifically: Penn State alumni brokers.
Today, in an article perfectly-tuned to the present moment, Reuters explored the tragic plight of Penn Staters at Merrill Lynch, which employs 326 of the university's alumni. What's it like, to have spent four years at a university that covered up and ignored evidence that one of its most prominent employees was regularly sexually abusing children on its property, and then joined an firm that systematically misrepresented the risk of its mortgage-backed securities, directly contributing to the worst recession in three-quarters of a century?
"I'm still struggling with it," said one Northeast U.S. Merrill adviser, one of several brokers who said they were not authorized by the firm to speak on the matter. Another broker said he has had to field questions about the scandal from clients and colleagues.
Oh, wow. He has to... field questions about the scandal? From clients and colleagues?! No! That's horrible! There isn't a single thing that's worse than fielding questions about a scandal that happened at a university you went to. Is there anything that deserves more sympathy, any plight that deserves more coverage? I'm racking my brain, to think of something that could happen to you that might be worse than that. But what could it be?
In any event, Merrill Lynch's Nittany Lions don't want your sympathy. They know what's really important isn't them, or their plight—but the plight of the university. And just like investment banks have recovered after their reckless behavior plunged the U.S. into recession, so too will Penn State recover. And what else matters?
Yet just as Schreyer took to the airwaves to say Merrill was "still bullish on America" one day after the Black Monday crash of 1987, Penn Staters at Merrill believe the school will recover from these dark times.
"It's very sad, but Penn State will be better in the end," said Robert Goldberg, a 1971 graduate and a Merrill adviser who shuttles between Princeton, New Jersey, and his home in State College. "The school will show what it's made of and more good will be done because of this."
Maybe we can set up some kind of charity or fund for these guys? Can't think of anyone who deserves it more.