The Issues with THON 2013

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I am not going to start this post by detailing my involvement and passion for THON, because I do not think that should affect my message in any way. It is clear that THON has had its struggles running the event throughout the years, and it seems that it has always been taboo subject to talk about.

There is no denying that THON is a fantastic cause — but there is also no denying that the event also has its issues. I think that there are two common issues that span across all of the problems that THON faces when it comes to running THON weekend. First, there is a lack of communication to the public, and second, a lack of concern for those participating in the event, may it be spectators, dancers, or otherwise.

First, the lack of communication to the public about situations such as the lines to enter the event, the lines for the PASS list, as well as limited access to sections during the final day of the event. The only access that the public had to this type of information was through news sources such as Onward State, The Daily Collegian, or The School Philly through Twitter and Facebook updates.

This may have worked out fine for students who have access to these resources but what about students who do not check those news sources or parents and out of town spectators who also do not have access to these resources. The THON twitter account rarely, if at all, gave updates on the line situation or the approximate wait time, same thing with the PASS list. It left organizations and spectators relying on third hand information and other news sources that were not THON. I find this point most frustrating because those of us who are actively involved in THON put in countless hours of work throughout the year, yet THON does not have the decency to let us know how long we can expect to be standing in line, or that the PASS list is closed.

Second, the lack of concern for those participating in the event is inherent and infuriating. The worst would have to be the lack of concern for the dancers. There were a large number of dancers who were denied access to their friends and family throughout the weekend, either because the PASS list was shut down, or simply because they could not even get in the door. There were dancers who could not receive support from their families, yet members of committees such as Communications and Merchandise, who had no inherent purpose on the floor, were permitted there.

Even the committees that are required to be there, such as Rules and Regulations, were not even doing their jobs correctly. During the final four hours there were Rules and Regulations committee members who were holding the rope to keep dancers away from the stage while Go Go Gadjet was performing and were facing the wrong direction! It is an inherent flaw of the system that the floor will be closed due to capacity so dancers cannot be supported, but committee members can have unlimited access during their shifts, essentially just to take up space.

Committee members were also allowed in the BJC whenever they wished, as one of my friends phrased it, as long as you have a THON logo shirt that you did not purchase, you can basically do whatever you want, and this proved true throughout the weekend. Spectators who were in the cold for hours were not permitted in the BJC because of ‘capacity’, yet committee members, who may not have even been on shift, could walk right in. There were also problems with spectators leaving sections once the BJC was closed. Spectators were not permitted to leave their section to use the restroom, which is literally obscene to me.

Clearly there are flaws in the system, and I am not saying that I have the answers; not one person does. However I do believe that there needs to be a call to action. I encourage all of you who experienced a frustration throughout THON weekend to express it to the overalls. We should not be scared to voice our opinions in fear of sounding as though we do not support the cause; because we do.

Also, the THON overalls need to make a statement about the issues that occurred this past weekend. There needs to be a comprehensive review of the problems that happened and planning sessions on how to fix it. The passive aggressive way that THON is currently handling it, acting like nothing happened, is in poor taste and not what I would expect of the largest student run philanthropy in the world.

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  1. There’s a lot of assumptions in this, especially about committees. The Rope that R&R was holding was separating captains from everyone else, as that is essentially the only reward that captains get for their countless hours of hard work throughout the weekend. Committee members do not get unlimited access to the floor; they must be taken down as one group by their captain during time that is specifically alotted for them. Allowing committees on the floor does not show a lack of respect for dancers. Most of your issues seem to stem from a basic lack of understanding about captains and committees. I can see how from the outside it looks chaotic, but for the most part it is a well oiled machine.

  2. While it is true that THON does have its flaws, we try to do the best that we can as a completely student-run organization. Also, the BJC staff makes calls about capacity and THON has to comply with that.

    • I don’t think using the excuse of being student-run is conducive to creating the change we would like to see in this organization. No one is doubting the sincerity of THON as a whole, but the author has a right to voice her complaints in a public forum so that change can occur. Also, in regards to capacity – over the weekend it seemed like a definite blame game about the capacity issue. The Police said this, the BJC said that, and THON decided this. It is very unclear about who is directly responsible for addressing these capacity issues. Also, the stands seemed relatively empty when the BJC was at capacity.

  3. Thank-you for writing this article. I was one of those dancers who could not see her family all weekend. It was extremely frustrating and upsetting. I did voice my opinions about how the weekend went from the pass system to the committee members not doing their jobs and all I got back was “Thank-you for letting me know about this issue. I will address the situation”. No apology or explanation for any of the things I mentioned. It seemed like they were brushing off my 2 page letter. I hope that if other people voice their opinions they will realize that something needs to be done. As a dancer it was extremely upsetting to see so many people on the floor who seemed to serve no purpose when my own family was not even able to get into the BJC. I understand that everyone wants a to be able to get on the floor however, there needs to be some changes so dancers are able to see their families. I know that would have made me and my family very happy. I hope that some serious changes are made next year. Regardless, it was still an amazing weekend!

  4. I think that this situation is a lot less cut and dry than you think it is. I danced this year in THON and it was the best weekend of my life, and it made me proud that my fellow students could pull off something so amazing. With that being said, these are students running this event, and we can’t expect everything they do to be perfect, and there’s definitely some constructive criticisms that can be made. I made a lot of these criticisms (some of the very same ones that you did) to my friends who were captains and overalls. I wish you had talked to someone like that as well before you had written this blog.

    • Shane, I don’t think anyone expects the students who run THON to be perfect and get everything right. That also doesn’t mean that students who invest their time in this organization don’t have the right to give some criticism. Who is to say that the author didn’t take the time to talk to someone in THON before righting this? I doubt that all of these complaints are solely her own. Using a community post is a very appropriate way to communicate to the leadership of THON in a public manner. I applaud Melissa for taking the time to describe her grievances in a respectful manner. It’s definitely a lot more than most who would just go around and complain to their friends (nothing against you – I just think that a lot of people complain and don’t put real action behind their words).

  5. I danced this year and was fortunate enough to have my family get down onto the floor even if it wasn’t exactly when they were supposed to be, and while I agree that the pass system is flawed and needs to be revised I strongly disagree with your positions on the committees. Those students work harder than any one else to get THON ready and make it happen that they deserve their chance on the floor. In regards to the committee shirts, I talked to a captain and learned that they do pay for these shirts and captains were required to meet their committees at the gates when the building was hitting capacity to ensure that they were not getting in for the wrong reasons. You can’t blame committee members for these flaws.

    • I agree however, if committee members are going to be on the floor then they should be doing something or at least mingling with the dancers/families. Throughout the weekend committee members were just talking to each other and this is very disheartening to those that cannot have their own families on the floor. Let alone the committee members who generally had a lack of respect for others all weekend.

      • I don’t understand how this is a lack of respect. Committee members work hard all year and get a pittance of floor time as a reward.

      • Committee members are encouraged by their captains to mingle with the families, dancers, and children. When my committee was given its only hour of floor time at 4 am i spent it moraling a dancer i personally knew. Every committee member i witnessed showed the utmost respect for 4D families and the dancers there. I fail to see how talking to each other and enjoying the floor time they receive shows a lack of respect for the people there when they’ve worked incredibly hard all year long to make the glorious event happen.

      • Constructive Criticism on

        I don’t necessarily think it is a lack of respect but I do think there is anecdotal evidence of committees who mostly mingle with themselves and do not engage the other members of the floor. Maybe that is something to look into? Assigning committees to dancers so that they can serve as additional moralers during their floor shift.

  6. Everyone writing these posts should realize that even if you have very good points (and this article does have some), they lose weight when your tone oozes entitlement from the first sentence. Also, does anyone fact check the things that they post? For example:

    “As long as you have a THON logo shirt that you did not purchase, you can
    basically do whatever you want, and this proved true throughout the
    weekend.”

    Number one, R&R checks that Committee Members have their badge when they walk into the BJC. Number two, Committee Members can’t get on the floor without their Captain present, and they have specific times when they are allowed on. Number three, Committee Members pay for their shirts. If you’re going to criticize THON, go for it, but get your information right. Otherwise, you’re only inviting people in the THON community to ignore you because there is a solid indication that you don’t really understand what you’re talking about.

    My point is that the Overall Committee is basically always willing to hear your concerns, but you have to express them as a person who wants to improve the philanthropy and not just another bitter spectator who didn’t get on the floor. When you discredit yourself with incorrect information and use the lack of support for dancers as a cover for “I didn’t get on the floor so I’m going to whine about it,” nobody takes anything away from this. If you think you can improve THON, either present your case without the ego attached or apply to be a Captain and make the changes yourself.

    • R&R committee members do not have to have their badges on them when they enter the BJC. They don’t receive those until they are inside. As long as they flashed the logo on their shirt they could come in at any point and skip the line. At the same time though, I doubt there were many times that they abused this power. R&R members have so many hours spent at the BJC that they most likely spent their few breaks sleeping. I know all of this because I am on an R&R committee.

      • I saw many students come into the BJC without showing their badges. The on-shift shirt really is all you need to get in. I am sure it was rarely abused but a committee member in my org used his on shift shirt to get into the BJC to spend a little time with us in the stands before going on duty. I’d say he probably spent an hour or so with us – definitely an hour or so that he wouldn’t have been able to if he waited in line like the rest of us; though I can’t say it wasn’t nice having him around to help us maintain our section.

        • You do not need your on-shift badge to get into the bjc only your committee shirt that being said. during high capacity hours such as pep rally and all day Sunday your captain had to be at the gate in which you were entering to let you in and they could only do so if you were on shift

    • “I am not going to start this post by detailing my involvement and passion for THON, because I do not think that should affect my message in any way.”

      That sentence is in no form a sense of entitlement. As you would put it, she detaches her ego to let the argument stand for itself.

      “[T]here is a solid indication that you don’t really understand what you’re talking about.”

      That’s entitlement. Whenever someone provides (constructive) criticism about THON, some of its defenders rebuff their opponents by picking out the minute details of their arguments.

      This is not the first year THON has faced these problems. Neither was it the first year that people brought up their complaints to THON. Should the THON overalls hold at least one townhall or press conference per semester to hear from the community about what needs to be changed?

      • A townhall is actually a viable suggestion. But people should just know that you can always express your suggestions to the Overall Committee in a way that isn’t an angry Onward State post. In my experience, they have always been more than willing to listen to ideas. I don’t know where people get this idea that THON is this big cultural circle and if you aren’t on the inside, you can’t speak about it. Have you ever met Will Martin, or Mike Wellner, or Chris Kessler? I would bet money that they are in the top 1% of nicest people at Penn State.

        You say that the OC should hear about what needs to be changed. To be honest, a lot of the “problems” being brought up in these posts are incredibly obvious. The OC was in the BJC for 60+ hours at THON 2013, and anything that went wrong made its way to them at some point. What the 2014 OC really needs are solutions, even if the logistics aren’t perfect. But this post was more concerned with attacking Committee Members than providing any, and that’s why I was so irritated with the author’s tone.

        • Matt, I really don’t think there is an overt attack against Committees in general and if you believe so, you’re really taking little away from a well-constructed conversation centered around fixing the problem. A lot of her criticism is valid and as you stated well-known. I don’t think that her call to action, a comprehensive and publicly available report on the issues from the OC and commitment from the OC that these issues are being looked into, is too much to ask for.

  7. The complaining is all well and good, but it is really pointless if you don’t give any suggestions for improvements. No one should complain about problems without giving a solution. Students should send their (reasonable) suggestions to overalls in order to make their voices not only heard but productive in making THON better for everyone involved for years to come.

    • I don’t think there is a problem with using a community post to voice your opinion. This is a great medium for conversation I think that the author’s suggestion is this comprehensive report on the reasons for why things didn’t go so well this year.

  8. While I agree that there were problems, I feel like you should have checked your facts before you posted this blog. There are many inaccurate statements.

  9. Please actually do some research before going off on committees. We do, in fact, pay for on-shift shirts, which aren’t a golden ticket allowing one to do anything like you’re suggesting. We have to listen to R&R too. No inherent purpose on the floor for Comm and Merch? Every committee does a lot of work throughout the year to prepare for THON. To not allow them to have time on the floor would be ludicrous. Also, committee members do not have unlimited time on the floor. We are given floor shifts, and we must be with our captain in order to get down to the floor. Everyone is also given badges so R&R will know which committees can/can’t be on the floor. Also, the only time I could recall when people weren’t allowed to leave was when they made an announcement asking everyone to relocate to their seats so they could get an idea of what capacity they were at. Made sense to me. Any other time, people were free to leave their section. I do agree that there are a lot of things about THON that can seriously be improved (pass system especially), but please fact check yourself before writing an article about what’s wrong. It takes away from everything else you have to say, which I agreed on minus the committees.

  10. Committee members pay for their shirts (pay at the beginning of the year, $15 for the on-shift logo shirt and 100 days til THON shirt) and people were absolutely allowed to leave the stands to go to the bathroom. They were handing out little ticket numbers so people wouldn’t lose their spot in the stands when they went to the bathroom or got something to eat. I agree that many things were flawed and there should be increased communications from THON to spectators, but get your facts straight.

    I don’t think that the Overalls need to apologize or explain to anyone why the BJC was at capacity. I think they will revise and advise the next year’s Overalls how to better handle the situation and maybe gain control. You can bet this will be a huge issue with many planning sessions with the new Overall committee to handle the problems. Noone expected for this to happen and hindsight is 20/20.

    And remember, we still raised 12.3 million dollars. I think that is in pretty good taste.

    • “people were absolutely allowed to leave the stands to go to the bathroom” Untrue. The Assistant Managing Editor of OS reports that he was told he would be unable to leave Press Row for the restroom until the Total Reveal… at 11:30 am.

      What do you mean no one expected this to happen? For the past three years, the doors have been closing earlier and earlier.

      • Yes, they have been shutting earlier and earlier. However, 2011 shut the doors around 8:30 and in 2012 the doors were shut around 7:30. No one could have anticipated that there would be a line at 3:00 am on Sunday morning or that the building would be at capacity on Saturday afternoon.

      • My wife was in the building Sunday and was also told if she left her section she would not be able to go back into the section. Maybe that was false information, if so that goes back to the communications challenges discussed in the initial post.

        • There is most definitely an issue of communication between R&R captains and their committees. It’s like a game of telephone and things get blown out of proportion all the time. There is definitely a system in place to ensure that everyone’s liberties are maintained – it is just selectively used and not everyone is in the know. I hope that this issue is addressed swiftly.

  11. 1. all committee members pay for our shirts…get your facts straight.

    2. things happen, the pass system almost always fails and problems that couldn’t be expected happens….thats what a committee called MORALE is there for, when parents and friends cant get on the floor, the support comes from that committee…morale trains all year to be a dancers supportTHON weekend refer to http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2013/02/22/thank_you_to_the_morale_team.aspx

    3. spectators can use the bathroom they just risk loosing their seats in the process…just like everyone else. No committee member when on shift is allowed to go to the bathroom either. its not a big deal.

    4. when the BJC is filled to capacity, random committee members cant just come into the BJC whenever they want to, they need to be on shift to enter and if they want to stay then they need to stay and not leave the BJC. my committee was there from 4 am to 4 pm because we werent allowed to leave and come back. You obviously have no idea what you are talking about…

    5. part of the reason that it is full is because THON accounts for all of the four diamonds families being there ALL weekend even if they arent physically in the BJC. We cant not let them in when that is what THON is all about. There were 30 more families this year….a significant difference, which led to a larger amount of people accounted for in the BJC.

    6. you really just sound bitter…you should either voice youre opinion to someone THON related or get all your facts right to post publicly about it.

    7, every committee does an outstanding amount of work for THON and every single person on a committee deserves to be on the floor. Thats what each one of them work for all year and denying them floor access becuase of the committee they are on is not fair.

    • Excellent. Just @ #2- Committee members are allowed to use the bathroom when on shift, just not on the event level. They can use the concourse bathrooms as long as a Captain escorts them back down to the event level.

    • I think a lot of your criticism is just as bitter as you accuse the author of being. It is clear that the author doesn’t understand a lot about the committee structure of THON but that doesn’t take away her right to comment on the event from an outsiders point of view. First, I think a whole lot of people deserve to be on the floor all the time but that doesn’t make a lot of logistical sense. While I understand the prestige and reward the comes with a shift on the floor, you cannot deny that there are times when dancers need support in which it makes more sense to allow others onto the floor. It’s called priority. Moreover, if the PASS system is down and noone is able to support the dancers, why does it make sense for the floor to be flooded with committee members? On point number four, I think there are many anecdotes (even within this comments section) of committee members who did exactly as you described. Any crafty committee member and negligent R&R staff could make it happen. There definitely needs to be more moderation in that regard. On point five, even if thirty more families were in attendance – let’s say roughly 6 family members per family? – that’s just 180 more people. There were definitely more than 180 people in line outside. I think more of the fault lies in the PASS failure and what that did to crowding on the concourse. In short, I wouldn’t stifle the dialogue too early the way you are in this comment. There are legitimate issues to take a look at.

      • I don’t think any one person knows the answer to all of the issues that arose this year. That is why the authors request for a comprehensive review from the OC makes great sense. Only if we study the problems can we ever hope to create a solution.

  12. I think that you may be overly simplifying things.

    1) Regarding the lack of communication via the official THON twitter and facebook pages: Have you tried sending a text or a tweet out in the BJC during THON Weekend? It’s not exactly the easiest thing to do with thousands of people trying to make calls, send texts, and tweet tweets. Many of the tweets that are sent out are most likely pre-programmed to send out at specific times and it might be just me. I know it’s not an excuse that twitter and facebook weren’t updated more. Messages from official social media platforms need to be accurate and unlike these third-party new outlets, the organization doesn’t have the luxury of being wrong or having a tweet sent out late. PR always has a lot on their plate and I think they still do a phenomenal job, after all, who do you think communicates to Onward State, the Collegian, and The School Philly?

    2) I found your point about Committee Members being useless on the floor to be very frustrating. What if THON didn’t have the decency to allow volunteers that work countless hours all year long to help make the magic in the BJC happen? These Committee Members are given floor time (only one shift) as a reward for all they do for the year. The Committee Members that I know use their time to interact with families, support their dancing friends, and uphold the general morale on the floor. Also, how can you hold a rope the wrong way? There are two sides to the rope, both of which technically face the right way…

    3) You should never be afraid to voice your thoughts or opinions. The Captains and Overalls that I know are always looking for ways to improve their positions and make THON a more enjoyable experience for anyone who wishes to be involved. That being said, at least make sure that your concerns are valid, accurate, and well-researched. The only thing worse than complaining is complaining with a sense of entitlement.

    • To Uhh’s point #1 let’s hope additional bandwidth is something the Technology committee can focus on for THON14.

    • I think the author did a great job distancing herself from entitlement in her first paragraph. That isn’t to say that the author got every fact correct but I think that she develops enough ethos to properly construct a compliant. On your first point, I don’t think you have a full grasp on the difference between using twitter on your cell phone and utilizing the internet connection in the BJC. If there is a problem connecting to the internet, THON probably wouldn’t be able to function. I promise you, the reason there weren’t many tweets from the THON twitter had nothing to do with the inability to use the internet. On your second point, I don’t think that the author had an issue with CMTE members being on the floor. I think she just implied that there needs to be more priority and there needs to be a greater look at the logistics of it all. I think everyone in the BJC that weekend is deserving of being on the floor for all of their hard work throughout the year, it just isn’t possible. On your third point, I think you defeat your argument when you lament the author for having a complaint in the first place. It seems like everyone wants to listen to everyone’s opinion, just not when it is put for the whole world to see. It’s very non-conducive to change. I for one applaud the author for putting her criticism out there for everyone to comment on and to encourage discourse.

  13. You say that us that were part of committees such as COMM (which I was on) had no inherent purpose on the floor, but what about the few committee members that were in my specific committee that were dancing and were very excited and had a huge morale boost when were able to visit them on the floor during our allotted times (which is not as free ranging as you make it sound), and also dancers that we knew personally that we could visit and help give a morale boost, bring dancer mail, or something to keep them going throughout the entire weekend. We received a total of 3 hours floor time for the entire weekend and most of that time was at off-peak hours such as middle of the night or early mornings when the PASS system was not only working, but there were plenty of dancer families, parents, and friends present on the floor.

    We also paid for our on shift shirts and were not granted unlimited access to the BJC because of it. It wasn’t just flash your shirt and get in. We also put in hours of work the entire weekend to make sure THON is running as smoothly as possible, such as working with sleep shifts for committee captains, lost and founds, and information booths for those people who are looking for information about the PASS system (in some cases we were a good source to go to find out if it was down or not). We don’t have the free range ability THON weekend like you think we did. You make some great points about as better PASS system (which we all agree needs a huge redo but probably won’t get it any time in the near future) and about dancer families, but you also are making a bunch of assumptions about committees and those involved that are simply not true. Fact checking can come in handy before writing an article like this.

    • I think your affiliation to COMM has blinded you to the real commentary being made here. No one doubts the work that the committees put into running THON but there are definite issues that need to be looked into which is what the author seemed more focused on.

  14. The only solution I can think to do is give priority to Four Diamonds families and then dancers’ pass list people. Mail out passes in advanced to those people dancers put on their list… I was a dancer and although I absolutely 100% believe that the Four Diamonds families should get on the floor before anyone, it was really hard for me to not have my people get on the floor. I struggled a lot and had a few breakdowns that probably could have been avoided if I had just seen at least the person I had on priority. Where I was supposed to have her on the floor for 5 hours, I was escorted up to the concourse level for only 5 minutes to talk to her (The morale overall was an angel for doing this!). I really don’t want to sound selfish because I know who THON is for! I just know it was really difficult to not have the support I needed.

  15. I am not a student or anyone affiliated with Penn State. I have always admired the people who devote themselves to this cause. But the more I have been reading about it, the less altruistic it seems to be. It almost takes on an elitist tone. People are chosen to participate, from what I gather. And why do the parents need to be present at this college event? What the heck do you need your families there for if you are supporting this cause? I have seen many comments complaining about the lack of access of the families. I understand the families who have children undergoing cancer treatment being there to both receive and give support. But all this whining I have been reading makes the cause seem less than a true charitable act. The charity is not for “the dancers”; I thought it was for the kids.

    • Oh buddy…in your best interest, I would delete this post and ask someone because there are people that will rip you apart. Or at least phrase your questions in a more inquisitive tone cuz you sound preeeeeetty entitled and arrogant. Not saying this to sound malicious, just giving a head’s up.

      • I didn’t have anything by a rherotical question. I am merely offering an observation on the event, based on what I read on publications such as this one. I am not entitled nor arrogant, only a bystander who perceives that this event has become more about the “dancer” than the poor child with cancer. Let em rip, if it makes them feel better.

        • I’m not going to rip you apart in any way, but try to imagine being on your feet for 46 hours. Can you honestly tell me you wouldn’t want to see your family, especially your parents and siblings cheering you on? It’s one of the most beautiful things you’ll see at THON- when a mother or father is shamelessly crying with pride because of what their son or daughter is doing for the children of other families. That’s the way it is. It is NOT just a ‘college event,’ it is a family event. Because PSU is far more than a school, it’s home.

    • It is certainly for the kids. I think THON means a lot to those who have a personal connection, so having their own families there to support them and share in on the moment is important for some. Standing for 46 hours and not being able to sleep in that amount of time is a lot more difficult than it seems. By hour 30, you are delirious and in pain (no where near as much pain as the kids!! but in pain lol)… so having someone you love and care about there to help you through it is almost like more motivation. For me, THON was an important milestone, and we all need the people who loves us to share in our important milestones. I understand that you see it as whining, but please don’t undermine the dancers.

      • But you see, you young people are missing the point. You don’t “need” your people there….if you are truly doing this for a good cause, or for gaining some sort of recognition. There is a huge difference in the way generations view generosity and charity….it should never be about yourself.

        • I think you are misunderstanding the point of having our friends and family there with us at THON. A lot of those friends and family of dancers are the ones who donated money and helped create the amazing total we achieved. They have the right to be there in honor of their support. More importantly, those friends and family are there to support the dancers. I have many, many close friends who have danced and all of them stress the physical and mental challenges it poses. Having your close friends or family at your side, even if for just an hour, gives those dancers a tremendous boost in morale. I suppose you can make the argument that they don’t “need” those people by their side, but it definitely helps them a lot. Dancing is absolutely a life changing experience and a lot of dancers want the people closest to them to witness it.

          Having said all that, the focus of THON is never lost on anybody involved. Being involved in THON is being a part of something much bigger than yourself. All of the volunteers, whether they are in an organization or on a committee, give up hours and hours of their time in order to go canning, garner donations, create mail for kids, and everything else needed to make THON and the Four Diamonds Fund a reality. I agree with you that charity should never be about yourself and I think THON is one of the least selfish activities that anybody can be involved in.

          Last thing. The majority of complaints from the weekend are about people not being able to get on the floor or even into the BJC.This was due to capacity issues as well as a strong showing of Four Diamonds families, which is awesome! Its amazing that so many of them were able to show up since the weekend is for them. People are complaining because they’ve spent a year preparing for this magnificent weekend and then weren’t able to attend or view it the way they would like to.

          I highly recommend reading more about THON or watching the THON documentary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyIoIWc8Ihk). I think that could clear up some of the questions you have.

        • I like to think of it like any other charity event. For example, if someone decides to run a marathon and raise money for a cause, they want their friends and family to be there to support them. Even though they’re running for a cause (probably) bigger than them, they would feel upset if their own supporters weren’t there, even though what they’re doing is charity.

          • Or another example I just thought of. Let’s say you’re some kind soul who has signed up to donate bone marrow. You go to the hospital to do it. You don’t *need* friends or family there to comfort you, but you would definitely appreciate it, and it would make it an easier process. The pain of whomever needs your marrow is probably greater, but that doesn’t mean that you should be denied something that makes your suffering less.

  16. I’m not trying to undermine the dancers at all. There just seems to be alot of complaining by people who are “infuriated” that their charitable act does not go as they want it to. The Penn State community has put this out there for the world, and reading articles like this on, and some of the comments demeans the entire thing. Maybe you should think about how it looks to the outside world before you whine on an internet newspaper, in an entitled manner.

  17. I believe the captians and every other person involved in thon know the issues. They deal with it the best they can. I work at the hershey medical center and even some of the heme onc nurses couldnt get down. I cant believe you are sitting here dissing thon. Go get a life

    • People shouldn’t bitch. It’s a wonderful problem to have that soooomany people wanted to be part of it.

      I know that charities hate to spend money on anything other than the cause, but it sounds like THON needs to invest in better hardware and maybe some engineers to devise a ticketing system that gives everyone a very specific time window when they can come in. Disneyworld does it. it can be done. But the system can’t crash.

      Apparently press row was a bit of a screw-up too, but that’s fixable. PSU accommodates a ton of press for football, for example. I’m sure they can find a way to get press in without making them wait three hours in line.

      Fortunately, it sounds like the kids and their families all had a great experience. That’s the priority, and that seems to have worked out.

      BTW, the author of this piece may want to look up “inherent” and “literally.” I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  18. The biggest issue that needs to be addressed is the pass system. Overall capacity is overall capacity. It is what it is. I am an alumni and there supporting NY sister and I waited in line from 3:30am until 6:15am to get in Sunday. What I’m getting last with the pass system is the yellow passes that the overalls have for their friends and families and the past overall ones. These count to the floor and limit access to organization members and family members from using their dancers passes for support. These other passes are over abused and in most cases these users aren’t using them to support a dancer. I mean in some cases they are reserved for the right people but they take away from the needs of the dancers. Floor support. Their moralers are great but in most cases not their real friend and they have limited floor time themselves.

  19. You say that you have put in countless hours working for Thon yet you have not a clue about committee member access so I suspect you are a wannabe rather than someone that committed hundreds if not thousands of hours to making certain this worked. Are you telling us that you know who were and were not on shift at any time? That you know that people passing through the pass lines were going onto the floor rather than the myriad of other activities on the mezzanine or in the basement which require help over the weekend? The at dancers get “no support” – that is the most bizarre statement in your whole litany oc complaints? Dancers get feted and petted and massaged and amused for 46 hours and I know parents and friends want to be there too and there was a lot of disappointment in that regard this year but that was due to the overall number of spectators which was surprisingly increased from last year. The police are the ones calling the shots on the numbers allowed and one of the issues that needs to be addressed for the future are the Thon family weekend passes. When those families are not there, there are still spaces held for them since they are allowed access at any time. Don’t fault the committee members – if they are on the floor it’s because they earned it through their year-long efforts.

  20. There are always going to be some flaws in the system when it comes to an event as big as THON at the BJC, especially when the event is completely student run. As a THON chair for my org for the past two years I have definitely had my share of frustrations when it comes to ‘capacity’ and PASS list problems. One thing that has helped is the fact that a lot of my members are on various committees and were able to support our dancers on the floor when others couldn’t get through the PASS system.

    I do agree with your frustration of the number of committees on the floor throughout the weekend. Committee members are important and I completely believe that all members should have a chance to be on the floor for at least part of the weekend because they do participate in events throughout the year; I honestly can’t say that all committee members ‘work’ all year though because the bigger committees such as OPP and R&R basically have their once a week meeting through the year and don’t do much else. I think they do need to decrease the amount of committee members on the floor at a single time. There’s no need to have 4 or 5 OPP committees on the floor at one time; it’s too many people and let’s be honest they’re not picking up trash (side note – there was a total lack of trash cans on the floor this year). I was on an OPP committee at one point and yeah we walked around and picked up trash for about 15min of our shift and the rest was usually spent doing whatever we wanted to do. The committees that don’t necessarily ‘do’ anything while on the floor such as merch, etc should get their chance to experience the floor, but I think they should get that chance at an off hour such as the early hours of Saturday/Sunday. If they did this then ‘capacity’ on the floor wouldn’t be reached as quickly during the day hours when a lot of people are trying to visit dancers on the floor.
    The PASS system is always going to have its flaws, but I give MAJOR props to the R&R PASS leaders and the TECH captains on how they handled things this year. The PASS system to my knowledge never actually crashed this year, an impressive accomplishment since it’s crashed completely at least once for the past several years, the only real problem was ‘capacity’ on the floor. I did however hate that a member of my org was in line to get on the floor for about 5 and a half hours on Saturday and I don’t completely comprehend how that’s possible. During that entire time and most of Saturday most dancers were without any supporters and that’s not right. Yes, they have their moralers, but moralers are not always there. An improvement that could be made is to not have dancer couples moralers be on the same committee. If this was done then a dancer couple could potentially always have one moraler with them since committees are on shifts at different times.
    As far as the BJC reaching ‘capacity’ so early, it was frustrating to absolutely everyone. People not getting in on Saturday was one thing, but when FINALE pass holders aren’t able to get into the BJC that’s absolutely awful. When finale pass holders aren’t let in that means that their dancer/dancers were WITHOUT ANYONE during the last four hours, one of the toughest parts of the weekend. The kicker to this is that you can’t edit that finale pass during THON weekend; it’s decided weeks ahead of time and R&R doesn’t allow PASS list changes after a certain date in early Feb. That was really the only thing that bothered me about the doors closing, they should’ve let the finale pass holders in for the dancers since finale passes are actually calculated out and those pass holders are guaranteed to get onto the floor.

    Communication is a very difficult thing to accomplish in the BJC during THON weekend. Being able to just send texts is a complete win. So I understand the THON twitter account, etc not being able to stay completely updated. However, I think they should utilize the THON chair phone numbers they have access to. Sending mass texts to THON chairs about the floor being to capacity/BJC being at capacity/etc would be extremely helpful. We received an email about the BJC being at capacity early Sunday, but checking email in the BJC during THON weekend? Not possible.

  21. Looking Forward on

    Although some of these points are valid, and the frustration experienced last weekend very real, most of these comments do not pose possible solutions to the problems. Yes, people need to understand more about committee duties and responsibilities before accusing members of unfairly violating THON rules and expectations for the general public. Yes, it’s incredibly difficult to communicate within the BJC. This is true of many large venues, not just as Penn State, but anywhere. These two, and many other mentioned issues, took place THON weekend. But if the article’s sole purpose was to attack the operations behind the entire way, the author should have used a more productive tone. Instead of wasting energy on what didn’t work, use this media to positively interact with the THON community. The overall chairs change every year, along with a great majority of the volunteers. While discussing these issues with student volunteers is helpful, it needs to be done in a timely manner so that something can be accomplished. There are countless other individuals affiliated with the event every year that might be able to do something with this form of feedback. And I guarantee, that each and every single person involved with THON understood that these issues were occurring. This is a student-led event that is growing in popularity. We should try and have a more positive outlook on how we need to approach these issues in the upcoming years, instead of sinister attitude about what went wrong. Has anyone actually tried to communicate their concerns with any individuals or leaders of THON?