Opinion: Stop littering campus for your grad photos

Confetti left behind on the grass in front of the Kennel Bookstore. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)

It’s that time of year again – graduation is only a few short weeks away, and graduates are getting photoshoots to commemorate the occasion. But this year, it’s time to ditch the confetti once and for all.

Confetti, glitter and other decor might make your pictures look pretty, but they’re not so pretty when they’re left behind to litter the campus. 

Everywhere you walk on campus in the month leading up to graduation, particularly around favorite photo spots like the fountain, the Fresno State sign and the library, are covered with debris from photoshoots. 

“I’d like my school to have a relatively clean campus. I don’t want to be on my way to the library and see that my route is completely trashed in confetti,” said third-year sociology major Sarah Vang.

Joshua Bell, fourth-year music education major and Bulldog Marching Band president, is a “no-trace photographer” who is trying to keep campus clean while doing grad photoshoots. He does not allow confetti in his sessions.

“Any self-respecting photographer should frown upon their client popping a confetti cannon, releasing hundreds of little pieces of plastic onto our campus,” Bell said. “We have tours of high schoolers and potential future Bulldogs touring campus all of the time. What message are we sending them with a filthy campus? That’s definitely not Bulldog behavior.”

Confetti caught in the drain in the school fountain. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)

That’s what it comes down to: students are so proud to celebrate their accomplishment and their time at Fresno State that they’re willing to trash the campus they’re so excited to take photos in front of.

“How can someone be so proud to be a Fresno State graduate, paying professionals to take their pictures and flaunting their photos online, yet trash their school grounds so casually?” Vang said.

Especially concerning is that most confetti, particularly if it’s made out of plastic, metal or metallic paper, isn’t biodegradable. It’s not breaking down in the environment – it’s just going to sit around on the ground until someone else cleans the mess.

The same materials that make confetti nonbiodegradable could also make it toxic to any animals that make their way onto campus.

“Just think of all the animals on Fresno State’s campus, specifically the squirrels. What if these squirrels eat these tiny plastic pieces, choke and die? It’s distasteful,” Bell said. 

If you’re a proud Bulldog about to graduate, Bell suggested using some eco-friendly alternatives to confetti for upcoming photoshoots.

“Use the biodegradable, rice paper confetti that disintegrates when it hits water. Or just have your photographer use an overlay of confetti, it’s incredibly simple,” Bell said.

Other options include flower petals, bubbles or hole punching leaves.

But if you insist on using confetti, the least you can do is clean it up when you’re done with your photos.

Confetti left behind in the grass near the fountain. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)

“Students can use confetti for their grad photos, but they must pick up the mess after they’re done with their photoshoots,” said fifth-year liberal studies major Brian Barreras-Gomez, who recently highlighted the confetti litter around campus on Facebook.

Leaving behind the mess can make it harder for other students trying to take photos celebrating their graduation, Barreras-Gomez pointed out. 

“They must leave the spot clean so that other people can do their photo sessions, too. If they can’t clean up the confetti mess, they shouldn’t do photo sessions in the future,” he said.

So Bulldogs, go ahead and celebrate your accomplishments, and get some photos to prove it. But don’t trash the campus while you do it.

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