Activism in the name of awareness taken a bit too far

Published by adviser, Author: James Meyer - Assistant Campus Life Editor, Date: March 1, 2012

Campus activism has a long and illustrious history, playing key roles in such tumultuous issues as the civil rights movement and the Vietnam anti-war protests. Nowadays, our activism has taken a kinder, gentler tone in the form of “raising awareness.” We might walk around barefoot or have a friendly campout in the quad to raise awareness for the homeless. Everyone has a pet cause, which wouldn’t bother me so much if they actually did something about it. Raising awareness is not really activism at all, but rather a way to feel good about yourself without actually doing anything to help solve the problem.

This university seems to be a haven for “awareness raising” activism that only leads to a littered campus. I’ve seen caution tape wrapped around the smoking shelters, women’s undergarments hanging from trees, and cardboard signs set up in the quad. And let’s not forget placing the word “rape” on stop signs around campus. Apparently, defacing public property is justified when it comes to activism.

And let’s not forget the sheer dishonesty of some activists. Last semester, I encountered a group of ladies wearing stickers that read, “Kiss me, I’m a non-smoker.” As I took a long drag from my Marlboro and attempted to oblige them, the invitation was suddenly revoked.

A most recent form of activism has been the balloon release followed by a letter writing campaign in protest of Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts for higher education. I can’t help but wonder how strong of a message this will send when politicians know that most college students don’t vote anyway. But that’s beside the point. This balloon release has prompted environmentalists from across the country to launch an Internet crusade (read: flooding Facebook pages) against our Student Government Association for its blatant disregard of the environmental hazards of balloons.

As much as I find ineffective activism annoying, I find it even more annoying that people who live out of state have nothing better to do than cast dispersions upon our SGA for releasing balloons. Since Facebook is a public forum, I’ve taken the liberty of responding to a few of the more vibrant posts to grace The Rocket’s Facebook page.

Chelsea Vosburgh writes, “How disgusting … industries, corporations, money … we all live on one planet.”

Yes, Chelsea, we all do live on one planet. And how wonderful it is to have the computer industry and corporations like Facebook so that we can communicate with the rest of the planet.

Kristina Witter strongly admonishes, “If you are as upset by the environmentally devestating actions taken by your student governement today, please help us make sure it can’t happen again but making it against the law!”

You want to ban balloons? What a buzzkill! Children’s birthday parties will never be the same. Also, how about a little less emotion and a little more attention to spelling and grammar if you want your activism to be taken seriously.

And, lastly, my personal favorite comes from Taffy Williams who has this to say about balloons, “Millions are inanely released each year; they end up mostly in water bodies, on shores, and in the guts of hungry wildlife.”

I was raised in the country and I’m a big fan of wildlife. However, I’m also a fan of the mechanism that created such a wonderfully diverse population of wildlife: natural selection. Balloons are not harmful; eating balloons is harmful. Perhaps the presence of balloons is precisely the natural selection pressure necessary to lead us to a world in which the survivors are animals who do not engage in such inept behavior as balloon eating. If I saw a person eating a balloon, I certainly wouldn’t blame the balloon or the balloon manufacturers. My conclusion would be that this person is dumber than my cat, who has never shown interest in consuming latex. If an animal is incompetent enough to smell a latex balloon and think that it smells like food, that is pure Darwinism at work.


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