Goodman: Dance Marathon should enact canning guidelines


Meredith Goodman, Columnist

Although I only did Dance Marathon once during my four years at Northwestern, I truly love the event. It brings all of campus together (or at least enough people to fill a gigantic tent outside Norris University Center), re-energizes campus during the dead of winter and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities.

However, if there is one thing I could change about DM (besides the concept of not sleeping for 30 hours), it would be the canning. DM canning has gotten out of hand.

I understand that participants in DM have to raise a large sum to be able to participate ($400, to be exact) and that canning can bring in a good amount of money, particularly during big NU sporting events. However, some of the DM canners have taken to potentially dangerous tactics to raise money, and I want DM to address these.

Potentially dangerous canning, you ask? Consider the four DM canners I saw this Sunday night at Skokie Boulevard right by Old Orchard Mall in Skokie. Three of them were standing on the very thin medians in the middle of the street, two of them soliciting cars from the left turn lane. One of them was dancing between cars on the middle of the road. Perhaps the only safety measure that was in place to protect them from getting hit by a car that evening was their bright yellow DM vests, acting as a sort of warning sign for drivers.

Why would anyone feel the need to can for DM in the middle of a busy road at night?  This practice is dangerous, and frankly, I question how much money these particular canners raised. I doubt drivers waiting at Skokie Boulevard had enough time to dig cash out of their wallets to give to canners. Canners wouldn’t even have enough time between lights to inform drivers what DM is and what charity they were raising money for. DM should communicate to dancers that canning in the middle of the street is dangerous.

I went to the DM website to see if the organization had any existing guidelines for canning, and in a subsection of the “Fundraise” page of the “Students” tab, I found a short page describing some informal rules for canning. The page mentions that students can go canning while wearing special yellow bibs and using specific DM cans. It also says that students can go canning at Ryan Field on specially approved days. Finally, under a section entitled “Glenview Canning”, there are three suggested street corners to can at: “Glenview & Harlem, Glenview & Waukegan and Waukegan & E. Lake Avenue.” Canning at busy street corners is a good idea as long as students stay safe, but canning in the middle of the street could put students at risk.

I greatly enjoy the energetic spirit of fundraising for Dance Marathon, and I want to continue to see students canning. However, in consideration of student safety, I would encourage DM to explicitly warn students not to can in the middle of extremely busy streets.

Meredith Goodman is a Weinberg senior. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].