PDM to shave off 8 hours of dancing


Students dance at Pitt Dance Marathon 2015. Photo: TPN file photo

As of this spring, Pitt’s annual charity dance will require a little less endurance.

The Pitt Dance Marathon, which raises money for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, has previously been a 24-hour dance marathon in February held in the Charles L. Cost Sports Center. This year, the dance will move to the William Pitt Union in the second week of April and will only last 16 hours. The Office of Student Affairs, rather than the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, will fund the Marathon.

Victoria Bianco, co-president of the PDM executive board, said the decision to make the marathon 16 hours rather than 24 came from the Dance Marathon Leadership Conference, which was run through the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and was held in Louisiana this July.

At the conference, the board saw data showing there was no benefit to having a marathon that runs for 24 hours, unless it’s as well-established as Penn State’s dance marathon, THON, for example.

Bianco said the extra eight hours of time is hard to fill with programs and games. Additionally, having the marathon during the day from 8 a.m. to midnight will allow families and children from Children’s Hospital to attend.

The decision to receive funding from Student Affairs rather than the Greek community, Bianco said, had largely to do with a stigma that PDM was a Greeks-only event.

“The common opinion [about PDM] is ‘Oh, that’s what the Greeks do,’” Bianco said. “It’s hard to attract students from all across campus when it’s seemingly run by Greeks.”

Matthew Richardson, the coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, will still act as PDM’s adviser. Richardson said Student Affairs moved the date of the event from February to April to allow organizers more time to fundraise.

Linda Williams-Moore, director of cross-cultural and leadership development, said the changes are not a cutback, and they will maximize the amount of money it can raise for the Children’s Hospital.

Last year, the marathon saw an 87 percent increase in fundraising and raised $153,000, compared to its $100,000 goal. Williams-Moore said PDM was able to beat the goal because of increased participation outside of the Greek community. Last year, organizations like the Pitt Pathfinders and the Black Action Society participated in the fundraiser alongside members of Greek life.

“The consensus is that the more the event is an all-campus event, instead of a fraternity and sorority event, the better the participation,” Williams-Moore said.

Richardson said Student Affairs chose to move PDM to the Union because it’s more centrally located, and the different rooms on the ground floor will give organizers the chance to have different styles of music playing at once.

“The Assembly Room, for example, may be playing hip-hop, while the Lower Lounge is having a country music two-stepping contest or a Taylor Swift-fest,” Richardson said.

PDM’s new location in the Union will also help get students involved, as a large number of students pass through the Union every day and are more likely to see advertising for the event, Bianco said. The Union is also more accessible for students living on lower campus or in South Oakland, as opposed to trudging up the hill to the Cost Center.

The PDM executive board chose 16 hours to correspond with the year 2016. Bianco said the board will leave it up to future board members to decide whether or not to increase the number of hours with time.

“Who knows, maybe next year’s student leaders will want to make it a 17-hour marathon because there’s really no magic number,” Richardson said. “The goal is to maximize participation so we can help as many needy children as possible.”

Bianco, who is also the president of her sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, said members of the Greek community, like other student organizations across campus, have always been involved in planning and fundraising for PDM, and that’s not going to change.

The only difference this year is that the PDM board is putting more emphasis on proving this is an all-inclusive event by moving it out of the specific umbrella of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and into the general Student Affairs Department.

“We basically proved ourselves last year,” Bianco said. “[We showed] that [PDM] is something that deserves funding.”