Penn State Interfraternity Council/ Panhellenic Dance Marathon participants will see a big change in this upcoming year’s schedule for canning weekends.
Instead of the usual four canning weekends that are held throughout the year, only three will be held, and they will all occur during the fall semester, according to a THON newsletter released Wednesday. The three canning weekends will take place on Sep. 28-30, Oct. 19-21 and Nov. 9-11.
Public Relations Overall Chairwoman Cat Powers (senior-public relations) said the Overall Committee scheduled the dates with the safety of all THON volunteers in mind.
“There is a high risk for inclement weather during January and February, so the Overall Committee felt it was in the best interest of our volunteers to move all the weekends to the fall semester,” Powers said.
THON Overall Chairman Will Martin (senior-communication sciences and disorders) echoed Powers and said the best chance for safe traveling weather for THON volunteers is during the fall semester.
“The reason the canning weekends are scheduled for the fall semester is to ensure that volunteers can travel and participate in the safest conditions possible,” Martin wrote in an email. “Moving all canning weekends to the fall semester allows volunteers to work towards THON’s mission while keeping safety in mind.”
Both Powers and Martin said that the death of Penn State freshman Courtney O’Bryan this past year was a tragic loss in the THON community, but Powers said the decision to move the dates of the canning weekends was a separate issue that centered around general volunteer safety.
O’Bryan died in December after being involved in a motor vehicle accident while en route to a THON canning trip.
This past year, the THON Overall Committee initiated mandatory safety workshops for all canning volunteers in order to reinforce the importance of volunteer safety. Powers said that this coming year, any student who wishes to participate in a canning weekend must attend one of those safety workshops before they go on their first canning trip.
One thing that will be different this year in regards to the canning safety workshops is that students will not have to wear a wristband in order to prove they registered to participate in a canning weekend. Instead, students will have to sign a consent form and present their Penn State student ID at the workshop in order to prove eligibility.
Rachel Tedesco, the 2012-2013 THON chair for the Oriana Singers and Glee Club THON, said even though there are only three canning weekends this upcoming year, it is still three major opportunities to raise money.
“I think the overall committee made a decision that they thought was best and they are looking out for our safety,” Tedesco (junior-public relations) said. “As long as we have opportunities to raise money for the kids, I’m happy with the decision.”