THON students' grades graphic

For some Penn State THON directors and committee members, THON acts as a part-time job because of the hundreds of hours they put into planning and preparing for the weekend-long event.

THON volunteers may struggle with heavy workloads the days leading up to and following THON weekend. In addition, some deal with professors who are seemingly unsympathetic toward THON commitments.

Alexis Hauser, who danced for the business fraternity Phi Gamma Nu, said she made sure her homework due this past Sunday and Monday was done ahead of time.

“I don’t really plan ahead often [with my schoolwork], but I didn’t want my grades to take any sort of hit for small homework assignments being turned in late,” Hauser (senior-agriculture business) said.

Edward Glantz, teaching professor of information sciences and technology, said most professors want students to be successful and appreciate the clubs and organizations at Penn State — but some professors feel differently.

“Some instructors, for whatever reason, have the impression that [students] only have to worry about [that instructor’s one class], so they aren’t very sympathetic to anything going on in [a student’s] life, or any other classes [a student] has,” Glantz said.

Tajul Cauffman, who is currently living in Hershey for the Penn State Nursing program, participated in THON this weekend with her sorority, Epsilon Sigma Alpha. She had to travel to back to Hershey immediately after THON ended because of her early classes on Monday morning.

“Some of my professors weren’t considerate to the fact that many of us are involved with THON even though we reside in Hershey this year,” Cauffman (junior-nursing) said. “I was exhausted, and the last thing I wanted to do was make the two hour drive [to Hershey].”

Thon Dancer Entry

THON dancer high fives crowd while entering the Bryce Jordan Center for THON on Feb. 15, 2019.

Cauffman’s Monday morning classes are attendance-based, so she had no other option than to drive home on Sunday night.

Hauser said she “lucked out” with having professors who were familiar with THON and supported her efforts.

“My Spanish professor excused me from class Friday and Monday and is letting me make-up a quiz at her office hours this week,” Hauser said. “I talked to her Wednesday before THON and she immediately offered me these accommodations, but for my other big lectures, I didn’t bother emailing my professors.”

Curtis Chandler, assistant teaching professor of journalism, said there is no point in resisting THON because of the overwhelming amount of students involved in the event. He decided to tie THON into his syllabus and have students cover the weekend-long event as assignments for his hands-on courses.

“I find a way to adapt the assignments so they can do their THON stuff, but still learn something from covering THON,” Chandler said. “The thing I like about THON, from an educator’s standpoint, is that students are really into it. Anytime people have that much motivation for something, it’s a good teaching situation.”

Chandler said he tries to incorporate THON into regular class lessons as well. He said when discussing intellectual property, he used the example of how THON uses music in their promotional videos without permission, and has a class discussion about it.

“[I’m] lucky because journalism covers events and so incorporating things like this into class makes sense, where it would be a lot more difficult if you were in an engineering class or something, unless [students] are going to look at the physics of dancing for 46 hours,” Chandler said.

Hauser said her advice for students dancing in THON in the years to come is to plan ahead and speak to your professors ahead of time.

“I stalked Canvas and made a list of everything due the week before and after THON. That helped me prioritize what needed to be done and what I could hold off on,” Hauser said. “Also, talk to your professors in person the week of THON because they are usually okay with making adjustments for you.”

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