Whenever I talk to my sister, a freshman at Penn State, I’m always struck by the ways her college experience in no way resembles mine.
Naturally, we try to one-up each other by describing fun campus activities – she brags about going to football games, while I boast that Wolf Blitzer was at Saturday’s men’s basketball game.
We accept that our schools are polar opposites – in fact, we love it. And throughout the year, I have not been jealous of what her college experience has to offer. That is, until I learned about THON.
THON is Penn State’s 46-hour charity dance marathon, aimed at raising money for fighting pediatric cancer for a local medical charity called the Four Diamonds Fund. It incorporates grassroots fundraising throughout the year and culminates in one large, practically campus-wide event. It also raised over $9.5 million this year.
This is one of the most well-known and successful dance marathons in higher education, but it’s not the only one. Northwestern has one. UCLA has one. The University of Florida has one. And GW had one, but you probably didn’t know that.
GW’s philanthropic dance marathon was called Hippothon. Last year, student Rachel Ginsberg and other organizers raised about $3,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network. The work the students did for this event was extremely laudable, especially considering the event has since been canceled.
Our school has demonstrated a commitment to service and charity; it garnered national attention with the Michelle Obama service challenge last year. Students, administrators and faculty do their best to give back and provide for the community. This is why it is so disappointing that our school’s dance marathon has stalled, and has not been a campus-wide effort.
Bringing Hippothon back and making it a premier campus event will not be easy; maintaining a tradition never really is. It will require planning and a great deal of student involvement and administrative support.
But I believe that Colonials are up to the challenge.
Penn State’s THON was started by its Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils. While our Greek life is fairly different from Penn State’s Greek life, perhaps Hippothon’s planning staff should join forces with our Greek-life office. Or, Hippothon could team up with other popular student orgs, like the College Democrats or College Republicans.
I know that comparing anything GW offers with what a state school offers is not always the best idea. But my sister loved being a part of that event, and it truly illustrated the power of what college students can do with philanthropy. After learning that we do, in fact, have our own version of THON, I can’t help but hope that GW’s dance marathon can gain the legitimacy and funding it deserves.
Lyndsey Wajert, a junior majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.
This article appeared in the February 28, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.