Suspended Canning Weekend Likely To Impact THON 2016 Total
THON announced last week that the Oct. 23-25 canning weekend was suspended due to safety concerns following the death of Tally Sepot returning home from the last trip. Executive director Katie Mailey explained to the THON community that the decision was made so that appropriate time could be granted in evaluating how to make canning safer in the future. The cancelled trip was not necessarily surprising, however it marks the only time a planned canning weekend was suspended for non-weather related reasons.
But this isn’t the first time THON has edited its canning practices in the wake of tragedy. Following the 2011 car accident that left one student dead and three injured, THON cut its four canning weekends down to three. Furthermore, the fundraising trips were moved out of January and December to avoid winter conditions from year to year, since the accident happened due to a patch of black ice. But after this year’s fatal accident, THON is now reevaluating its safety practices.
Although safety of Penn State students is of the utmost importance, one question eventually comes to mind about the suspended canning weekend: how will it affect THON’s total? THON 2015 raised $13,026,653.23 overall, and a large chunk of the total every year comes from canning. Large orgs like Springfield and Atlas can raise upwards of $100,000 in just one weekend. When you consider all of the Greek organizations, clubs, and independent dancers that travel out of Centre County to solicit funds, a one-third decrease in canning opportunities very well may see potentially $1 million less in the total for THON 2016 than if there had been three weekends.
Of course, the safety of Penn State students is more important than the final number that THON raises. Even if the total is one, two, or even multiple million dollars less than what we’ve seen in year past, the precautions THON is taking are worth the monetary deductions. THON 2016 will undoubtedly raise some number million of dollars, which is a staggering amount no matter how expected it is.
Last year, there was a lot of disappointment when the total failed to increase from the previous year’s for the first time since 2004. Some noted that with so many students now participating in canning, street corners can be a turf war, while others blamed the lousy weather of the third canning weekend in December. Before that canning weekend, THON sent out a number of warnings encouraging groups who felt unsafe due to sketchy weather to stay behind or leave the next day. Though it was inevitable that the total would plateau eventually, two years of inconsistent canning weekends (between this year and last) could be a factor in the end of the total growth, one that is not directly correlated to the efforts of students or the number involved.
It’s hard to look at something like fundraising decreases when the nature of the cancelled canning trip hits so close to home, especially with so many students coming together after the accident. But when the total is revealed at the end of those 46 hours this February, the omission of this canning weekend’s funds will undoubtedly be analyzed. THON, as it should, is prioritizing safety over beating a record or achieving a goal, but it will be interesting to see the total for THON 2016 with only two (or potentially even one) canning weekends.