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.