25,000 Penn Staters Don’t THON: Let’s Hear Their Stories

THON weekend is here. For thousands of Penn Staters, this means being in the Bryce Jordan Center cheering on dancers or participating as a committee member or captain to make the weekend happen. For 708 dancers, this weekend means standing for 46 hours to take a stand against pediatric cancer. For me, most of this weekend will be spent sitting (yes, sitting) on press row, writing.

THON involves over 15,000 Penn Staters, but what about the other 25,000 here at University Park and thousands more across the Commonwealth who choose not to participate?

It’s hard to deny that Penn State has developed a culture around THON. It is the one thing the university administration takes a whole-hearted supportive position on, while leveraging the world’s largest student-run philanthropy to garner a positive reputation for the school.

It’s a huge talking point on campus tours, and a common question to ask people, “Who do you do THON with?” Critiques of THON, even those that are well thought out and simply encourage a conversation, are met with disgust.

This week, we got a post to the Onward State Facebook page about the pervasiveness of THON at Penn State.

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Kait has a point, I think. There are thousands of Penn Staters not participating in THON this weekend, contributing to the community in other ways, or maybe just relaxing. That’s okay. There shouldn’t be shame in not being involved in THON. Onward State certainly makes THON a central focal point of that February weekend, but there’s always room for more content on the site.

If you want to tell Onward State what you’re doing this weekend, why you don’t participate in THON, and how people react to that, send me an e-mail at [email protected]. I want to hear what the 25,000 Penn Staters not in the BJC are doing. Have you been called out for not being involved in THON? Tell me about that. Is your organization hosting an event this weekend? Send me an e-mail and I’ll write about it.

THON is an important part of the University, but it’s most certainly not the entirety of what this Penn State experience means. Help Onward State share the other things happening this weekend. Tell us a little about why you’re not here — those stories deserve to be told too.

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About the Author

Melissa McCleery

Melissa is a senior majoring in Women’s Studies, Political Science, and Spanish. In the little free time she has, Melissa likes to cook, spend all her money at The Phyrst, and add to her collection of blue and white striped clothing. She can be reached via Twitter (@mkmccleery) or email ([email protected]).

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