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THON LineGate 2013: Special Interest Orgs Respond

Welcome to Hour 36. If you aren’t in the Bryce Jordan Center already and are still trying to get into THON, you’re probably stuck in the freezing cold, waiting for a massive line that is just inching by.

Unfortunately, one of the dominant storylines of this year’s THON has been the pervasive problem of lines to get into the BJC. This morning was no different, with problems surfacing as early as 3 a.m. Given that the Jordan Center closed its doors around 7 a.m. last year, many orgs were not expecting to have to vie for seats in the stands so early on THON Sunday.

We spoke with chairs in Special Interest Orgs Springfield, Atlas, Apollo, and Ohana about the line-related issues during this year’s THON. All four people we consulted expressed understanding toward THON’s logistical concern in preserving safety in the BJC. However, all four were also disappointed in THON’s failure to communicate capacity issues or entry difficulties to the many, many orgs participating in THON weekend.

Apollo President Paul Suhey expressed the difficulties his organization has faced given the logistical shortcomings of this year’s THON.

“It’s hard because you want to be in control as much as you can and it’s hard to describe [the situation] to your members when you don’t even really know what’s going to happen,” Suhey said.  “At the same time, everyone knows that [THON] is trying as hard as they can.”

As for how the org will cope with the unexpected difficulties, Suhey said that “you just gotta learn how to roll with the punches”.

Ohana’s FR Chair, Connor Russo, also expressed frustration at his org’s inability to receive full information about the Bryce Jordan Center’s capacity.

“It’s really frustrating for the members that have been here for a really long time that just slept for a few hours and couldn’t get back in,” Russo said. “We just need a little more communication to let us know what’s going on so we can let our members know when to get back, when to leave so they can get the rest that they need, that they’ve earned.”

Springfield Alternative Fundraising Chair Jackie Guo told us that “a lot of [Springfielders] were planning on getting [to the BJC] by 5 a.m.” but their section was closed off well before that hour.

“I know that [the line difficulties] are for safety reasons but it’s still sad that we misinformed our members,” Guo said. “We’ve had people waiting for three hours outside in the freezing cold, which is unfortunate.”

Despite widespread frustration regarding the lines to get into the Bryce Jordan Center, this year’s THON was not without improvements to the entry process. Both Guo and Atlas Alternative Fundraising Chair Allison Montgomery acknowledged the improvements in the process of “rushing the gates” before THON, especially in how they staggered the entry of organizations into the BJC.

Montgomery said that rushing the gates was “way better than last year so we’re really happy about that.”

As for today? “We’re just seeing what we can do. Just going with the flow,” Montgomery said.

Got a story about your difficulties in getting to THON? Let us know in the comment section below.

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About the Author

Bobby Chen

Writer and photographer, helping tell the many stories of the Penn State community.

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