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How Fraternity Suspensions Will Affect THON

by on January 08, 2018 4:48 PM

Many Penn State fraternity members will soon face the reality that an additional consequence of their chapter suspension will include being prevented from participating in THON.

Currently, 10 of the 49 chapters recognized by the Interfraternity Council are suspended. Most of these suspensions are for violating new rules and guidelines imposed following an investigation by Penn State into the state of Greek Life following the tragic death of Tim Piazza last February.

While the length of the suspensions varies by fraternity, one aspect rings true for all chapters: Suspension means they have lost recognition by the university, and now THON as a result. With more than 20 percent of IFC-governed fraternities currently suspended, THON and the rest of Greek life have had to make adjustments leading up to the annual 46-hour dance marathon Feb. 16-18, which caps a year of fundraising for Four Diamonds and the fight against pediatric cancer.

THON Organization Pairings

With all 22 Panhellenic Council sororities in good standing with the university, some have been forced to pair with new chapters or continue fundraising for THON on their own. However, the funds raised by the suspended half of the pair will not go to waste. According to THON 2018 Executive Director Andrew Smith, the paired organization that was not suspended will absorb the funds that were initially credited to the now-suspended organization. This amount will be reflected in the yearly fundraising total of only the non-suspended chapter or organization.

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THON Dancer Selection

Fraternity suspensions could also affect how dancers are selected. Smith explained that if a paired organization that was originally allocated dancers is suspended prior to dancer registration (Jan. 23-24), the organization’s dancer slots will be transferred to the other paired organization. In contrast, if an organization is suspended after dancer registration, its spots will be reallocated to the independent dancer lottery. 

Dancers who are part of a suspended organization who fall into the second situation will not automatically be granted an independent dancer spot and will face the same odds as other students who have entered the dancer lottery.

While this affects fraternity members who are involved with suspended organizations, it will have no impact on the dancers from their paired organization. In this situation, pairs will be viewed independently of each other and dancers of non-suspended organizations will not be affected by the actions of their partners.

Four Diamonds Family Relationship

The relationship between a Four Diamonds family and a THON organization pairing can be special. Often formed in the lowest of moments, families and members can build a tight bond over years of knowing each other.

While the Family Relations Committee will not formally recognize the paired status between a Four Diamonds Family and a suspended organization, committee members recognize the importance of the relationships created between an organization and the Four Diamonds Family they were paired with. For that reason, THON will not mandate that the organization must cease communication with the family. Additionally, THON will honor the family’s wishes on whether they would like to be re-paired if their original organization is suspended.

The THON executive board has not yet decided if suspended organizations will be allowed to be visibly represented during the weekend through letters and signage. Directors are currently in the process of reviewing all regulations and procedures surrounding THON weekend and will provide updates prior to the event.

As THON weekend approaches, it remains to be seen how these changes will impact the entire experience. 

Caitlin Gailey writes for Onward State. The Penn State freshman is a native of suburban Philadelphia and says she bleeds blue and white.
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