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THON Removes ‘IFC/Panhellenic’ and ‘Four Diamonds Fund’ From Mission Statement

THON’s new mission statement is sure to have some members of Greek life riled up. The organization updated its mission statement today, which omits any mention of its IFC/Panhellenic roots, which (according to THON PR) better represents “all that the THON community accomplishes through its efforts to fight childhood cancer.”

Here’s the first line of the old mission statement, which was in place for more than ten years:

The mission of the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon is to conquer pediatric cancer by providing outstanding emotional and financial support to the children, families, researchers, and staff of the Four Diamonds Fund.

Here’s the new mission statement is:

THON is a student-run philanthropy committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer. Our mission is to provide emotional and financial support, spread awareness and ensure funding for critical research all in pursuit of a cure.

While the language is completely different, the most obvious change is the omission of the “Penn State IFC/Panhellenic” distinction before THON, although THON’s full official title still remains the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.

IFC President Rick Groves said he had not been informed by THON or consulted about the change when reached for comment.

“We updated the mission statement in hopes of better communicating THON’s focus as an organization,” THON PR Director Lily Beatty said. “The updated mission statement clearly states the three core initiatives of our organization and our overarching goal to support families in the fight against childhood cancer.”

THON’s origins in Greek life has always been a source of pride among fraternities and sororities (we’ve all seen the “Penn State Greeks: WE STARTED THIS” T-shirts floating around the BJC concourse). IFC President Bill Lear organized the first THON in 1973, and Greek organizations are some of the biggest fundraisers each year for the organization. However, as THON has grown larger than the Greek community (and more bureaucratized), its Greek roots have become less prevalent.

Both Panhel and IFC used to have guaranteed positions (called AVPs, or Associate Vice Presidents) on the THON Overall Committee, but those were removed in 2009. The following year, the IFC/Panhellenic distinction was removed from fundraising materials, much to the chagrin of then-IFC President Max Wendkos who called the change a “slap in the face.” This switch is just the latest in a series of incremental changes as THON continues to involve more than 15,000 students each year.

One other major change to the mission statement, aside from the removal of the Oxford comma (boooooo), is the omission of any mention of the Four Diamonds Fund, which has been THON’s sole beneficiary since 1977. Now instead of saying it provides support to the Four Diamonds Fund, the mission statement simply cites is mission as being in “pursuit of a cure.” While there is no indication that THON plans to scale back its relationship with the Four Diamonds Fund, the new mission statement would give them latitude to do so in the future.

The updated mission statement will go into effect immediately, according to THON.

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