Is THON Outgrowing the BJC?

By: Kelsey Danylko

First it was the White Building, and then REC Hall. And this weekend, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) called the Bryce Jordan Center its home. Here 708 dancers stood on their feet for 46 hours; here 240 Four Diamonds families lived a stress-free weekend; here hundreds of captains and thousands of committee members made sure the even ran smoothly; here a countless number of spectators cheered on from the stands; here the final total of $7,838,054.36 was revealed. Needless to say, a lot happened here this weekend.  However, anyone who tried getting on the floor at any reasonable hour this weekend saw that THON’s newest home might already be too small for the massiveness of this event.

Being on a Rules and Regulations committee this year, it was part of my responsibility to control the Pass Zone. The Pass Zone is where anyone who is trying to get down onto the floor with the dancers must check on. BJC regulations only permit a certain number of people on the floor at a time, and with the 708 dancers, various committees, and families already on the floor, this number is reached pretty quickly. When this happens, the floor, and consequently the pass zone, is forced to temporarily close. This lead to disaster many times this weekend. Sometimes, the floor only had to close for an hour, which became best-case scenario. Other times, it had to close for up to three or four, and would only reopen for about 15 or 20 minutes at a time. When this happened, many people were left very, very unhappy. Parents of dancers would wait in the never-ending, never-moving line for up to seven hours, just wanting to see their son or daughter. Some understood—most did not. Although virtually everyone who wanted to get on the floor eventually got down there, it was a headache making it happen. Although Rules and Regulations captains did everything they could to get expired passes off of the floor and monitor the number of people on the floor closely, they best that they could do was wait for enough people to check-off of the floor before they could re-open it.

This problem is giving some of the good people of THON a bad name. These rules are out of the hands of those who run THON and in the hands of the BJC. Next year it may be necessary for THON to set up a PR position if it does not already have one, or better enforce it if it does, to tackle this issue. There needs to be better communication with those who are interested are getting on the floor to watch THON and it needs to be sure that they have an understanding of why these rules are in place. I’m sure some PR captains heard of many complaints about this problem this weekend, and with THON growing each and every year, it is inevitable that they will hear more of them in the future. THON is a great event—some would describe it as the best that Penn State puts on—and it’s a shame that it is getting a bad reputation because of situations that are out of its hands. The best we can do now is hope that better communication exists next year between those who want on the floor and those who let people on the floor, so that complaints are minimized and understanding and agreement is increased.

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