Tuesday night, March dashed together a logo. By Friday, they distributed thousands of hand-tied ribbons at a candlelight vigil to honor the victims. And by Saturday, when Beaver Stadium filled with blue, they had raised nearly $50,000.
This football season, with more time to breathe and prepare, they held a second Blue Out. They raised nearly $80,000.
March and Shapiro are both 27. They plan to graduate and leave State College in the spring. But they have partnered with a student group that will carry on the Blue Out going forward. They have changed forever.
“It epitomizes what somebody who believes in social justice, believes in critical engagement and civic engagement, can do,” March said.
On the night of Nov. 9, 2011, university trustee John Surma stood with the board at his back and the press to his front. He said the board had removed president Graham Spanier from his post. Then, he made the announcement that took the breath out of the community: “Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach, effective immediately.”
Anthony Lubrano, Penn State ’82, watched in horror. The board members looked expressionless, disengaged.
“Like so many Penn Staters, I was angry,” he said, “and I didn’t know what to do next.”
Lubrano had long been a donor to Penn State’s athletic department, and, indeed, the baseball park in the shadow of Beaver Stadium is named for him. But he had never been involved in university governance. He began conversations with Franco Harris, the former Penn State running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer. By January, the pair decided Lubrano should run for one of the nine seats on the board of trustees elected by alumni.
“I ran because of the events of Nov. 9,” he said.
Lubrano produced a campaign Web site and bought television spots in two central Pennsylvania markets, an unprecedented move. And in a video, he clearly outlined his pro-Paterno stance. Even after the coach died in January, Lubrano vowed to use his tenure on the board to clear his name.
“First, this was not a Penn State scandal,” Lubrano said in the video. “Second, this was not a Penn State football scandal. And third, this was certainly not a Joe Paterno scandal. To imply or suggest that Joe Paterno would jeopardize the well-being of a child to protect a football program tells us,” and here, he spaced out his words, “You. Did. Not. Know. This. Man.”