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THON Updates Policies Following Allegations Of Social Injustice, Discrimination

THON released a five-page action plan Friday addressing organizational shortcomings amid allegations of social injustices and discrimination.

The plan was developed over the summer following the release of an inclusivity survey in response to alleged discrimination involving THON and its members. It will be enforced effective immediately.

“We have identified various barriers to entry and inherently discriminatory practices within THON that need to be addressed,” THON wrote. “We are committed to creating a more inclusive environment with equitable opportunity for any Penn State student moving forward.”

Several accountability and reporting avenues have been set up to formalize the process and allow for anonymity.

THON introduced a Community Roundtable, added a zero-tolerance policy to the THON Rulebook and Volunteer Code of Conduct, and introduced mandatory racial bias and microaggression training for the executive committee and captains.

Incident reporting can be made via an anonymous form or sent directly to a THON captain or director.

THON acknowledged its failure to support minority communities and has made changes to recruitment and engagement. It said it will increase transparency data regarding the demographics of families, reach new audiences through alternative advertisements, and offer alternative recruitment and volunteer media, such as voiceovers and closed captions.

Engagement will be addressed by forming partnerships with non-THON affiliated organization and introducing a set amount of dancer spots for new or small organizations.

To reduce barriers for prospective volunteers, THON will alter the application process and volunteer expectations. GPA and resume submission will be replaced with yes/no questions about eligibility, references are no longer required, and no prior experience or knowledge is expected for first-year committee members.

Committee member meetings will not exceed two hours per week and personal health and academics will be valued more, according to THON.

In response to financial barriers, the only merchandise required to purchase is a $10 THON Weekend Volunteer shirt. Bonding activities will be capped at $20 per semester, and a new fund will exist to cover expenses of volunteers in need.

“While THON does not have the ability to hold members of organizations outside of THON accountable for their actions, we hope that this serves as inspiration for leaders of other organizations to take tangible steps in reviewing and improving their own organizations as well,” THON wrote.

THON’s executive committee can remove any volunteer for conduct that is determined to be outside of THON’s values with a majority vote.

The Code Of Conduct and complete Action Plan document can be viewed here.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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