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Honest Conversation About THON Is Necessary

Yesterday, my friend and fellow editor Kevin Horne voiced his opinion on THON, sparking a day and night of debate, discussion, and a whole lot of criticism towards Kevin’s opinion.

At the forefront of the criticism sits The School Philly, who posted a response questioning if Onward State was “serious” with the article. As The LION 90.7FM’s meme points out, The School Philly’s attempts to play moral police seem a little questionable given their sponsorship of State Patty’s Day, which will (hopefully not, but probably) vilify the Penn State student body again this year just six days after THON.

Anyway, plenty of others seemed to take offense to what Kevin’s post discussed, but I struggle to understand why. Can we not have an honest conversation about THON as an organization and about THON weekend as an event? Does every word spoken or written about THON have to glow like the Four Diamonds above the stage this past weekend? Honestly, we need some of the former before THON 2013 fundraising kicks into high gear in the fall. Kevin’s post, along with Ryan’s later in the day, gave that conversation a start.

Now, before you tell me I should transfer or begin threatening me on Twitter, let’s remember that THON is amazing, but it isn’t perfect. Thousands of Penn State students pour their hearts into THON and find that love returned in a huge way. However, the idea that THON should be void of criticism frustrates me. If we learned anything from the past few months, it’s that nothing is untouchable, and for good reason. As @maddyyypryor pointed out to me last night, we should want to find ways to improve THON, as that will make it a better experience in the future for all involved.

I danced in THON 2012 and served as a THON Chair the past two years, and I have truly enjoyed my involvement in THON for a variety of reasons. Many of my most cherished memories at Penn State come from my experience with THON, and I know that every second I spend on something THON-related helps Brighten Every Journey. Of course I THON for the kids, specifically in memory of a family member that I never met because of cancer. However, I also THON because I enjoy going canning with my friends and having the time of my life THON weekend, and I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

Here’s what many seemed to have missed: Kevin isn’t saying there’s anything wrong with that. He’s not “discrediting the year-long effort of thousands of our Penn State brothers and sisters” or “telling them that they don’t matter and don’t even belong in THON” or “telling them that its wrong to be so proud of your school that you want to tell everyone about it,” as The School Philly may have you believe. He’s just voicing his concerns with certain aspects of THON and asking those involved with THON to take a step back and consider a different approach.

So enough with the attacks on Kevin Horne for having the guts to start the conversation. Most of you didn’t see Kevin during the hours he spent at THON, but I did. He worked tirelessly, as much of our staff did, to provide top-quality THON 2012 coverage. He had encouraging words and pat on the back ready for me every time he saw me during my 46 hours of dancing FTK. He loves Penn State as much as anyone I know, and isn’t afraid to give Dear Old State tough love when necessary. You may not agree with his opinion, but at least attempt to understand it or at the very least respect his right to have one.

I have proudly stood as a leader for the Penn State student body on countless occasions over the past few months, and I’ve learned the importance of accepting that what you represent is not, and cannot be, perfect. At the end of the day, we raised $10.6 million to help kids fighting cancer, but that doesn’t make THON perfect. And that’s okay.

Now, can we start acting like it?

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About the Author

John Tecce

John is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He currently serves as the President of the Paternoville Coordination Committee and as a THON Chair for Nittany Nation. He tweets a lot.

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