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THON Does Not Justify State Patty’s Day

As many of you know, news broke yesterday that dozens of downtown bars will not serve alcohol this Saturday on State Patty’s Day. But I’m not going to discuss that here. I’m not even here to debate the existence of State Patty’s Day.

I’m going to discuss something I wasn’t even aware of until yesterday — the thought of an existing connection between THON and State Patty’s Day.

On Tuesday, many people, including The School Philly, made an interesting — and to many, maddening — link between the two weekends. (I’m going to be using the TSP tweets in this post because they have the widest audience, and are the most influential voice in this narrative.)

Before proceeding, please read the three below tweets (note the first and third tweets have since been deleted):

Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 2.02.32 PM

As for the first comment, State Patty’s Day was never meant to be a “celebration” the weekend after THON. It was simply supposed to be a one-time deal where students could observe St. Patrick’s Day since it fell on Spring Break during that particular year. If you think the dates are supposed to be intertwined, I ask you, “What did people do before 2007, before the State Patty’s Day “tradition” was founded?

Additionally, if you expect any kind of tangible reward for participating in THON, I’d encourage you not to take part in the initiative next year. While THON certainly has its flaws, one of the things that makes THON so beautiful is the “give everything, receive nothing” aspect. There are thousands of volunteers who’ve stood in sub-freezing temperatures during canning weekends and haven’t received — or even expected — a hot chocolate, let alone a day full of debaucherous alcohol consumption.

Secondly, I’ve honestly never heard of “THON Monday” or “THONabus” week. Since I’ve been around THON for the last four years, I chaired a committee and have been lucky to meet great friends who just happen to be overalls and captains. Despite this, I’ve honestly never caught wind of either of these terms. Perhaps, this is something that manifests from the people who do THON for the wrong reasons.

And for the sake of the thousands who work their tails off every single day for four months, please don’t couple THON and binge drinking in the same sentence, let alone the same word or phrase. It’s demeaning. That diminishes what THON, and in extension, what Penn State stands for. Even if you’re pissed about the bars being closed, reducing THON to being alcohol incentivized is much more unfair than your perceived iniquity of the bars shutting down on Saturday. What other “reward” do you want? Were the smiles on the faces of the Four Diamond’s children not enough?

Onto the improperly used “Work hard, play hard” cliché. Not to pick on TSP again (you guys know I love ya), but here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s post:

Everyone in the history of human existence parties/celebrates/gets drunk after they achieve success. When businesses complete a goal, party. When teams win championships, party. That’s what people do.

Yes, Penn State raised $12.3 million this year, for the kids. That’s tremendous. But even if you did want to tie THON to a “celebration,” now is not the time. According to statistics, seven children die of pediatric cancer each and every day. THON didn’t win the championship, it won a regular season game. The fight is not over. The fight for a cure is not done, and until it is, don’t tell me, a doctor, or a pediatric cancer patient that you now deserve “play” time.

Look, if you want to drink, drink. If you want to go out on Saturday, go out. But don’t use THON as an excuse to “play,” because you “worked” hard all year. If you’re going to use that rationale, do us all a favor and don’t THON next year. There are hundreds of pure, good-hearted people that’d gladly take your spot and expect nothing in return.

I know that most people on this campus don’t hold the thoughts that I addressed above, and you are what makes THON the great year-long event that it is. But there are select individuals who choose to link the two weekends and feel that State Patty’s Day is the “reward” for raising millions of dollars FTK. Simply stated, the two events are not associated with each other in any way whatsoever. Period. Believing so is a selfish, myopic stance that not only lessens THON’s magnificence, but also reduces Penn State’s reputation to one that alcohol driven and juvenile.

Next time you apply for a spot in the world’s greatest student-run philanthropy, remember why you’re signing up. You’re not doing it for alcohol. You’re not doing it for a post-THON total celebration. And no, you’re definitely not doing it for State Patty’s day.

You’re THONing for the kids — and there’s nothing better than that.

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About the Author

Ryan Beckler

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.


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