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Why Orgs Can’t Reserve THON Weekend Sections

During THON weekend, finding, securing, and constantly filling a section in the stands can feel like the modern version of the Hunger Games.

Just to obtain a section in the lower level, organization members are forced to wait outside the Bryce Jordan Center for hours before dancers even enter the building. As Penn Staters know all too well, this can mean standing in the onslaught of weather mother nature has to offer.

Once the doors open and members are allowed to enter the BJC, it’s a mad dash to find and secure a section that fits their organization’s needs. The number of available sections remaining can greatly depend on an organization’s entrance plan time, which is assigned by THON.

For the remaining 46 hours, organizations will battle for space in an attempt to secure as many rows as possible. This “section saving” is done to ensure as many members as possible can stand together when the BJC inevitably reaches capacity. Sleep deprived and physically exhausted, this can cause a lot of tension between opposing organizations or even within organizations.

It seems like a lot of stress for something THON could easily manage. Instead of leaving it to a total free for all, THON could assign preferential section locations based on organizations that raise the most money per member and have the least number of violations during the fundraising period. This would reward organizations regardless of their size and incentivize them to follow the rules more closely during fundraising periods.

Instead of working to alleviate this issue for spectators, THON merely chooses to not get involved.

THON Public Relations Director Haley Staub spoke about why THON chooses not to manage this aspect of the weekend.

“The reasoning is twofold. First is that we would not want to disincentivize a member of the community from attending by preventing them from having the opportunity to view THON Weekend from a vantage point that they would prefer,” Staub said. “Additionally, we want the viewing experience of THON Weekend to be fair and equitable to all spectators, regardless of organization affiliation or size. Taking a hands-off approach is the fairest way to ensure this is the case.”

To help prevent and solve conflicts, THON has worked to improve their communications with organizations prior to the weekend to ensure everyone is aware of the policies put in place. They also plan to utilize committee members and captains to mediate any disputes between organizations.

While this sounds nice, it doesn’t solve half of the issues previously mentioned. THON, which prides itself on organization, has chosen to micro-manage every other aspect of the weekend instead of focusing attention on something that could improve the experience for everyone. For the foreseeable future, it appears nothing will be changing, but hopefully, THON will reconsider moving forward.

Until then, to all the organizations out there, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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About the Author

Caitlin Gailey

Senior from just outside the city of Brotherly Love. Yes, I am one of those Philly sports fans. I bleed blue and white and have since birth. Maybe someday you will see me on ESPN and then again maybe not. If you ever want to inflate my ego email me at [email protected]

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