THON 2013 From an Untold Perspective


THON 2013 was my seventh THON, so I am aware of how full the BJC gets — especially on Sunday morning. I have never before heard of having to wait in a line outside for over two hours on Saturday afternoon. Many of our student volunteers were stuck outside with other volunteers, alumni, family and friends, for almost three hours. The worst part of this particular situation was that those of us who were inside the BJC could see how empty it truly was. In our three rows alone, there were at least 70 empty seats. This observation caused everyone to realize that the BJC was not at capacity. I believe this caused many rumors, including but not limited to, a bomb threat and a change in the capacity number of a building that has not changed. It also caused a rush to get in line even earlier than usual on Sunday morning.

My fellow alumni, students, advisor and I were in line at 3:50 A.M. on Sunday morning. What we experienced from this point on was completely unacceptable. After steadily moving towards the BJC for fifteen minutes, the line came to an abrupt halt. Despite inquiries, polite and otherwise, from the many people waiting to enter, we received no answers as to why the line was stopped. The only direction we did receive was that open water bottles would not be permitted into the arena, so everyone should dump out and throw away their water bottles. This decision made the situation even worse by creating ice all over the pavement that we had to stand on while waiting in line, in temperatures below 10 degrees.

After waiting in line without moving for an hour and a half, my fellow alumni and I decided to give up our spots in line to students from our campus. We could not stand in the cold any longer. We found out later, that about thirty minutes after we left, the line began to slowly move into the BJC. If someone had answered our many questions, we would have waited. We were far from alone in being locked out of the BJC. Among the many absolutely heart-broken volunteers was a commonwealth campus THON Chair- who poured her heart and soul into THON for the past year and should have been on the floor for the final four hours with her Finale pass, a commonwealth campus Chancellor, at least five commonwealth campus Advisors- who were responsible for the safety and well being of students inside and locked out of the BJC, students who had already stood outside for over two hours the day before, alumni, families of dancers, Hope Express participants, and many more people. It is safe to assume that majority of the people who came to THON this year are now sick in one way or another, especially since several people had to be treated for hypothermia symptoms.

As I write this letter I am again disgusted and heart-broken about how everything occurred. I do not know why these events happened the way they did, but I do know that it was unacceptable and cannot happen again next year. If something out of the ordinary caused these issues, the people affected by it deserved to know why they were suffering. THON should be something that brings joy and pride to everyone who thinks or talks about it! Penn State has a reputation to rebuild and although THON should be the one thing that sets Penn State above any other University, this year certainly did not make us shine. Many people traveled to State College, only to be turned away from such a great event.

I do not know how the logistics of THON weekend are planned and I am not looking to punish or embarrass anyone, but I would like to suggest a change for the better. Since all other events at the BJC are ticketed events, it seems like that would be a smooth transition to solve the capacity issues. THON is a fundraiser and anyone who participates wants to help the cause. I do not think people would be opposed to the idea of purchasing tickets for the weekend, as long as each campus, organization, alumni society, etc. is allotted a fair amount of tickets for supporters. Please consider these issues and suggestions. I want THON to be as big as it can possibly be, but we can’t shut out the volunteers who make it all happen!


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  1. Lori, I thank you for your constructive and respectful criticism of the operation of this THON weekend. I can truly sympathize with the frustration you and your peers felt during and afterwards. To your THON Chair – I hope that you’ll have another opportunity to participate on the floor during the last four hours. I think solving this issue of getting finale pass students into the BJC should be dealt with swiftly and easily. That being said, I am not sure if your solution would really do much to fix the capacity issue at THON. Simply put, the demand is much too high for a ticket price to be a strong enough deterrent. Also, with tickets comes a whole slew of equity issues to dealt with: the idea of who gets first access? Dancers and their friends and families? Organizations that raise money? Penn State Students? THON did everything they could this weekend to ensure that equity was met (as far as to keep a 6 month old baby out in the cold so that the mother and family couldn’t just get priority access over the other students waiting in line – an equity that I understand but do not support) and I doubt that it will be less of an objective in the future. What I don’t understand is that even if a line does accumulate, why couldn’t THON have went out and purchased large tents with heaters and lined curtain road so that people in line would be decently comfortable. I am not sure what the solution is to the capacity issue both I think that THON should really look into managing the overflow better than to just push them between gates.

  2. To clarify, this is not my writing (which I thought I pointed out prior to submitting this). A friend of mine, who I was with all THON weekend, wanted to remain anonymous and I offered to post this for them. I do agree with them wholeheartedly.

  3. While the idea of tents and heaters lining the road is an excellent idea in hindsight, the line this year was unprecedented and certainly not expected. This is a fantastic idea for an investment in the future years, but the notion that THON should have (or even could have) gone out and purchased generators and heaters at 4 am on a Saturday morning is a little unreasonable. That being said, and to be frank, the Overall Committee isn’t consisted of idiots. They understand the issues that went on during THON better than any of us, and I will bet my bottom dollar that they have, are, and will spend countless hours brainstorming, transitioning, and testing various methods to ensure that this situation is rectified.

    So many of the suggestions and criticisms that spectators, participants, and volunteers have come up with are extremely warranted and no one is being attacked for suggesting that improvements can be made. However, like I said before, most likely, if any changes could have been done in a fair, safe, and efficient manner, they probably would have.

    Although this weekend might not have been the experience that many were expecting, no one can deny that this year was also an unprecedented success with the $12 million total, addition of at least 30 new Four Diamonds families in attendance, and emotional support that THON has given to many. I am resting easy knowing that THON is in the hands of countless and dedicated *STUDENT* volunteers, and that any issues will be dealt with in the best manner possible. So proud to be part of such an amazing cause. For The Kids, always.