In an age of increasing global climate catastrophe, environmental destruction, mass extinction, and degradation of human health, you’d think that the University of California, Berkeley would be a little more attuned to its own environmental malpractices. I’m not talking about how Berkeley astronomers are trying to build a telescope on sacred, Indigenous land in Hawaii or the university’s multi-million dollar Gateway construction project or its plans to build over pivotal community green spaces or the literal deforestation at People’s Park.
I’m talking about bCourses confetti.
You know what I mean. When you finally submit your assignment on bCourses and that sense of relief and accomplishment washes over you and Canvas celebrates along, as if it’s giving you a kind smile and saying, Good job. You did it. Just as the feat of submitting your assignment warms your heart, splendor and opulence fill your eyes: bCourses pours out gorgeous confetti, a rainbow of color and materials, rejoicing in your success and pride.
Now stop. Take a step back. Think. You are being brainwashed with pretty colors and instant gratification; are we merely Pavlov’s dogs, itching to continue our hustle and grind over the chance of getting that sweet sight of confetti? A confetti whose materials are rarely ever considered? I’ll just go ahead and say it since no one else will: the paper is non-compostable. It does not naturally break down; it just sits in the environment for years, disrupting ecological systems and emitting toxins. Are you disgusted yet? I hate to break it to you, but it’s not solely confetti that rains down either. No, sometimes, the twisted minds of the bCourses Celebrations Department throw in other cruel tricks. We have been conditioned to think of them as “cute” and “celebratory,” but if you take a step back, you can see how horrifying it all really is.
Have you ever considered the little pandas that rain down, for example? They seem so sweet and smiley, as if they’re happy to celebrate your submission with you. No. They’re only babies, held captive since birth, never to know their parents or life in the wild. They are kidnapped, imprisoned, and then tossed down with violence, all so you can feel a little better about finishing your paper. Have you no shame? Balloons are released too, as if they don’t take hundreds of years to biodegrade, cause dangerous power outages and kill countless animals when let into the wild. Literal rockets are fired off, generating harmful CO2 emissions. Trophies are sometimes awarded and tossed, all made out of unsustainably mined metals, by the way. WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THIS?
Let’s break it down.
There are 45,000 students at this school with multiple assignments due each week, though for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume every student has about 2 assignments due. Each bCourses response to an assignment submission uses 1 cup of confetti, according to the 2021 bCourses Celebrations Department audit. So, if 2 cups of confetti are used per student per week, that yields a weekly total of 90,000 cups of confetti, or 5,625 gallons per week. With about 25 weeks in one school year, this all adds up to an annual total of 140,625 gallons of confetti dumped by UC Berkeley. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I’m sorry to be the one to wake you up to these horrors. But it’s time we acknowledge the truth: this is an atrocity that needs to be recognized. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of confetti a year are killing our planet and sullying our school name.
We must take a stand against bCourses and Big Confetti. Your reign of terror is over.