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We Are Sculpture

“We Are … Penn State” is recognized among Penn Staters around the world. Historians confirm that the phrase in its modern sense originated with the University’s cheerleaders. In 1976, inspired by the boisterous enthusiasm they saw in the fans of opposing teams, the squad created a new cheer they hoped would fire up the fans at Beaver Stadium. It took a little while to catch on, but the cheerleaders persisted. By 1981, “We Are … Penn State!” had become a permanent part of the language of every Penn Stater, on — and off — the field.

The phrase is also often linked with the story of Penn State’s 1947-48 football team. In 1946, the Nittany Lions were scheduled to play a segregated opponent, but were told they must leave their black players at home. The team voted unanimously to cancel the game. The following season when the issue rose again, captain Steve Suhey reputedly said there was no need to call another vote, because “We are Penn State.” The entire team went on to play Southern Methodist University in the Cotton Bowl — a game that would herald desegregation in collegiate football.

“We Are” expresses the common experience that bonds all Penn State campuses, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. The class of 2013 chose to embody these words in the sculpture you see before you, as an inspiring symbol of college spirit and loyalty.