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THON Issues Statement Following Former Volunteer’s Alleged Anti-Semitic Gesture

THON 2021 Executive Director Katie Solomon released an official statement Tuesday evening condemning the alleged anti-Semitic act of a former volunteer and encouraging students to speak out against discrimination.

“The mistreatment of any individual or group based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation within the THON community will not be tolerated,” Solomon wrote in a letter to student volunteers. “We must continue to work together to build this community on the basis of inclusion and serving others. If any individuals or organizations participate in discriminatory actions, there is no place for that person or group in THON.”

Solomon emphasized the student in question is no longer affiliated with THON and the situation as been “addressed.”

“I encourage you all to continue doing what you can by sharing resources, donating to relief funds, listening to your peers, and educating yourselves on ways to combat these social injustices,” Solomon continued. “I also challenge you to recognize that your effort must go beyond a repost. When we log off of social media, we need to ask ourselves how we can be the catalysts for change and represent the same messages of peace and love that we have all shared online.”

Solomon wrapped up her statement by stressing THON is “a home for everyone who wants to be involved,” but the organization is still far from that goal. She encouraged everyone to work toward building inclusivity and raise conversations in order to “see real change in the world.”

Monday evening, a woman believed to be a Penn State student received heavy criticism after an image of her wearing a drawn-on swastika surfaced online. Both Penn State and THON swiftly responded and condemned the alleged student’s actions.

Penn State hasn’t yet issued a formal statement regarding the matter and has not confirmed her identity.

You can read Solomon’s full statement to THON volunteers below.

Dear THON Volunteers, 

In this past week alone, there have been multiple acts of hateful violence in the United States. Yesterday, we released a statement speaking out against these racist actions that are disproportionately affecting the black community. We then learned of a photo of a former volunteer wearing an anti-Semitic mark which was appalling and not representative of our commitment to inclusivity. We have since addressed this situation and the individual is no longer affiliated with THON.  

The mistreatment of any individual or group based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation within the THON community will not be tolerated. We must continue to work together to build this community on the basis of inclusion and serving others. If any individuals or organizations participate in discriminatory actions, there is no place for that person or group in THON.

I encourage you all to continue doing what you can by sharing resources, donating to relief funds, listening to your peers, and educating yourselves on ways to combat these social injustices. I also challenge you to recognize that your effort must go beyond a repost. When we log off of social media, we need to ask ourselves how we can be the catalysts for change and represent the same messages of peace and love that we have all shared online.

As THON prioritizes ensuring that the THON Community is a home for everyone who wants to be involved, we also see that we are far from this goal. We ask that everyone contributes to this effort by reaching out with your thoughts, ideas, and questions. These are the conversations we need to be having if we want to start to act on these words and see real change in the world.

Thank you in advance.   

For The Kids,
Katie Solomon
THON 2021 Executive Director

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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