PDM requires more outreach for success

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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In case you didn’t hear about it, which seems to be likely, Pitt’s Dance Marathon took place over the weekend.

Although it is admirable that 385 students raised $81,000 — about $20,000 more than last year’s dance marathon — for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this year, the committees involved need to make a better effort to promote the event in order to increase the donation figures and attendance.

The majority of students involved in PDM are members of the Greek system whose organizations receive Greek Week points based on the number of attendees. Overall, only 10 percent of the roughly 18,500 undergraduates at Pitt are involved in the Greek system. The lack of promotion for PDM makes the event appear exclusive, rather than something in which the entire campus can involv itself.

The lack of promotion is evident not only in the small numbers of students involved and the amount of money raised, but also by PDM’s page on the Student Affairs website, which still bears information from last year’s event without a passing mention of this weekend’s marathon.

There is, however, hope to be found in other places. Take, for example, a fellow Atlantic Coast Conference university.

The University of North Carolina also held its annual dance marathon this past weekend. In its 16th year, the event raised $551,595 for North Carolina Children’s Hospital, with 1,000 students participating as dancers.

According to freshman participant Sarah Hart, promotion for UNC’s dance marathon begins in August. Thirteen different committees are involved in planning the event, one of which works solely on promotion. One week in November is devoted entirely to signing people up to dance in the marathon. 

“There’s literally some[one] every 30 feet with a clipboard all over campus all day,” Hart said in a text message. UNC also has a website devoted to the dance marathon where viewers can donate money and find information on the event.

PDM’s planning committee should focus on reaching out to a larger number of student groups and involve them in the planning process. 

It would be helpful to ask each student organization to delegate a member to assist in planning to increase involvement across campus. Doing this alone would eradicate the attitude of exclusivity that currently permeates PDM and encourage a higher level of involvement from non-Greek students. 

The planning committee should also use the media outlets available on campus to advertise and raise awareness for the event and to create and keep up to date a more interactive webpage for people to make donations and register for the event. Institutions outside the University could also be involved to raise funds and spread the word. 

PDM’s image needs to be revamped and enhanced in order to make a bigger impact than it has in the past.

PDM Head organizer Eric Weston said he and other organizers have strived to change the perception that the event is Greek only. Hopefully his successors will work to take this approach to a new level.  

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