Students React to THON Going Virtual

Story posted February 18, 2021 in THON 2021, News, CommRadio by Jonathan Draeger

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State’s annual fundraiser, THON, is taking a different route for the 2021 Spring semester.

The administration announced on Aug. 14 that the world’s largest student-run philanthropy will host a 46-hour dance marathon virtually, meaning dancers will dance for the kids from their computer screens. This is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and regulations that the

Pennsylvania State Government and the university have placed on public gatherings.

The virtual fundraiser will have students dance in front of its computer screens for 46 hours rather than on the floor inside the Bryce Jordan Center. They will not have to stand the entire time as breaks will be implemented into the dance marathon this year for dancers to get a good night’s sleep to recharge their bodies and devices.

With the announcement, students will miss out on the dance marathon, and the memorable experiences that follow. Freshman Carla Rosas voiced her opinion about the students missing out on the annual philanthropic event.

“It affects them because they think they have the college experience, but they’re not getting it fully,” Rosas said. “That would kind of make them sad.”

Rosas has never experience THON live. She has heard from many of her friends about the experience inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

“They say that this is a huge event that they really like and enjoy,” Rosas said. “I really wanted to enjoy it too, but I can’t.”

Junior Ayman Kiani experienced THON at the Bryce Jordan Center back in 2016. He talked about how the environment brought the Penn State community together.

“It was really uplifting,” Kiani said. “It brought a sense of community around, and I never was really in an environment where everyone kind of had a similar goal.”

When asked about the comparison between the in-person experience versus the virtual alternative, Kiani described the disadvantages of the participants dancing in the marathon, especially first-year students.

“It does suck that we can’t experience it and a lot of people coming in as freshmen don’t get that experience,” Kiani said.

Along with the dance marathon, fundraising and the family connection aspect has a different feeling. Freshman Hannah Feldman, who is in the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority at Penn State, talked about how the interactions cause a little disconnect between the two parties.

“We used to do activities with them one on one,” Feldman said. “They probably feel a little less connected to us than normal, and it kind of sucks.”

With the COVID-19 vaccine available, the idea that the university would take the risk to have an in-person dance marathon never crossed the minds of students. Feldman believes the university would have an in-person event, but be very precautious with who gets inside.

“I feel like Penn State definitely has our health in mind. They would probably be more selective,” Feldman said. “Not necessarily keep everyone out of the Bryce Jordan Center, but they would definitely be more selective and not have everyone.”

THON will take place on Friday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. and conclude on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m.

Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at jrd6052@psu.edu.