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Graduation season leads to confetti blitz

Champagne%2C+confetti%2C+balloons+and+a+graduation+gown+near+Hepner+Hall.
Champagne, confetti, balloons and a graduation gown near Hepner Hall.

Champagne, confetti, balloons and a graduation gown near Hepner Hall.

Lauren J. Mapp

Lauren J. Mapp

Champagne, confetti, balloons and a graduation gown near Hepner Hall.

by Lauren J. Mapp, Staff Writer

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Students in white dresses, black graduation gowns and red San Diego State sashes have filled the walkways near Hepner Hall on weekend afternoons all month. Surrounded by photographers, graduating seniors eagerly await the chance to have their portrait taken beneath the iconic building.

Salwa Khan, an industrial psychology sophomore, has taken photos of 10 graduating students so far this semester, with another eight students left to be photographed. 

“Almost everyone has the classic three things that they’ll bring: confetti and glitter, they’ll have champagne or cider or something like that, and balloons,” Khan said. 

After the crowds of students leave, confetti, deflated balloons, open champagne bottles and empty beer cans have been left behind. 

“The University Police Department has received complaints regarding littering, and we encourage students to be responsible and avoid leaving props on campus,” said Raquel Herriott, SDSU Police Department spokesperson, via email. 

Herriott added that having or drinking from open alcohol bottles is not allowed on campus, except for in the case of licensed restaurants and special events

Photographer Deshani Kandekumbura, a 2017 kinesiology graduate, has taken photos of four students so far this year at various schools throughout Southern California.     While taking photos of a student at SDSU on April 21, she saw bottle caps, champagne corks, bottles and cans left behind at camera-friendly spots around campus.

“I think that they should be mindful of that,” Kandekumbura said. “Yesterday, there were a lot of people popping bottles and there was alcohol everywhere. The girl that I shot yesterday wanted to sit somewhere, but there was alcohol spilled there.”

Confetti — used in the classic, wish-blowing portraits — can be found in several spots on campus, including the bridge near Scripps Cottage, the turtle pond and Hepner Hall. After students are done taking photos, the confetti is often left in their wake.

“A couple of them will try to sweep up as much as possible, but most of them, I would say, leave (the confetti),” Khan said. 

After seeing her peers post graduation photos on Instagram throughout her time at SDSU, English and political science senior Kristen Klinetob decided to have her portraits taken also.

She said she was laidback when it came to the aesthetic that she wanted for her photos, and she decided not to use props like confetti. 

“As far as Hepner Hall goes, I have seen it all four years and the leftover (confetti) is always there,” Klinetob said. “I’m OK with that, but it does really bother me when I went down to the koi pond and saw tons of confetti in the water, where the turtles and the koi fish are. I do have to wonder on campus, and on Hepner Hall, who eventually cleans up that confetti.”

Facilities custodians clean up photoshoot locations that are university-owned, while a contracted custodial services company cleans all Associated Students-owned locations, Herriott said. 

Some students said they don’t plan their confetti shots ahead of time, but instead use the confetti that other students had already abandoned. 

“Yesterday, we saw a lot of places where the confetti was just on the ground, so we just picked up confetti off the ground and they re-blew it,” Kandekumbura said.

Unwanted pests like skunks might be attracted to the scents left behind by the champagne. 

“The big one that I do have a concern with would be the champagne — it gets everywhere. Hepner Hall reeks of champagne for like months,” said Khan, who also took graduation photos in 2017. “Yesterday I was shooting and there was a skunk problem. I don’t know what skunks see in champagne, but they really like the scent and there are skunks all around Hepner now.”

Armed with confetti, champagne and balloons, Tiana Bragg, psychology senior, was ready for her photoshoot in front of Hepner Hall on April 22. 

Bragg planned to do her confetti photos on paved spaces away from the koi pond so that she wouldn’t disturb the habitat of the pond. She said it might be helpful to have warning signs near the pond to make people aware of the dangers confetti presents to the animals there. 

“We’re not going to go over by the koi pond, because I know that’s like really bad,” Bragg said. “I know people want to do it for the photos, but it’s definitely something to be taken into consideration, I guess. I feel like people aren’t really aware that it’s not good for the turtles and stuff.”

She added that she would try to clean up her confetti, but didn’t plan to put too much effort into it. 

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