Balloons are pretty.
There’s no doubt about that.
Watching hundreds of multi-colored balloons being released into the air is definitely a sight unlike any other.
But it’s not as simple as it sounds. It never is.
On Tuesday, SGA and APSCUF joined together to hold a balloon release and rally against Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts.
In the days before the event, SGA, Slippery Rock University and The Rocket received emails and Facebook posts from several groups concerned about the safety of the balloon release.
Balloons Blow, Sea Angels, Blue Turtle, Peaceful Protest Against Litter, Museum of Litter and a number of individuals pleaded with SGA to cancel the event and attempted to convince the student body that no balloon release is “environmentally safe.”
We don’t claim to be environmentalists in any way. We don’t do our own research on the biodegradability of latex balloons and cotton string, both of which were used at the balloons release Tuesday. All we can do is find previous studies and take note of their findings.
There was a good amount of email banter back and forth between SGA and Balloons Blow, the lead group to take on the cause.
They argued over facts, statistics, and opinions. Balloons Blow tried to convince SGA that even though latex balloons are biodegradable, the rate at which they biodegrade is too slow and animals, in the mean time, can ingest the balloons and die from that.
Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. SGA held a meeting on Monday night to decide what to do about the balloon release. In the end, they decided to go ahead with the event as planned.
From what we witnessed, the event was a success. Many students and faculty members showed up. They were given balloons, about 700 in total, and told to either pop them or let them go. From what we saw, no one chose to pop their balloon.
After the event, the environmentalist groups were immediately back on Facebook, commenting on The Rocket’s pictures of the event, saying how full of shame every student and faculty member should feel.
We don’t hate the environment. We don’t hate wildlife. We didn’t release these balloons with the malicious intent to kill birds and turtles.
To the best of our knowledge, SGA did the research before planning this event to make sure that it was environmentally safe.
Also, to the best of our knowledge, no campus community member expressed concern about the event. The only pleading to cancel it came from environmentalist groups in other states.
To us, the truly sad part of this whole controversy is that the true meaning of the rally has been pushed aside.
This balloon release was planned to bring awareness to Corbett’s proposed 20 percent cut to PASSHE schools.
That was its sole purpose. Whether it caught the eyes of any lawmakers, we don’t know.
But we hope it did.
Perhaps if SGA had explored other options beyond a balloon release, the emphasis could have been kept on the issue at hand.
A balloon release is not the only way to protest budget cuts.
We agree that something more than a simple rally was necessary. We should try to be more creative.
Lock Haven University held a funeral for education, complete with a casket, pallbearers and a procession through campus. Now that’s an original idea.
Perhaps if SGA was struggling with ideas they could have asked the student body, the very people they represent.
We have some very bright, imaginative students here.
We’re sure they could have come up with different ideas that might not have angered environmentalists in other states.