If you frequently attend student and club events, you will notice a change soon: things will be a little less colorful.
In the next couple of weeks, Student Life will no longer be providing balloons for ASCC and club events. According to Darci Feider, the Student Life program coordinator, Clark College’s supplier for the helium balloons said that due to a global shortage, they will no longer be selling helium to Clark.
For years, Student Life has provided free balloons to the activities programming board and clubs for events. Other campus groups were also able to purchase balloons.
According to ASCC President Bryce Regian, in addition to being used as decorations, balloons were also important for event advertising.
“The balloons give students the opportunity to add color, to add their own unique twists to events, to drive participation by using them to draw people’s eyes to people’s events,” Regian said.”It gave them a very easy way to draw students attention to their club event.”
Airgas, a national company that provides different gasses and chemicals to a variety of industries, was Clark’s supplier for helium. Because helium is a non-renewable resource, demand for the product, much like the unique property of the gas, continues to rise.
According to Kimberly Menard, media and PR manager at Airgas, while demand for helium has been steadily growing in different applications, worldwide availability continues to be extremely tight. As a result, helium prices have skyrocketed. Airgas is limiting their business for those buying helium in order to save it for other important uses.
In a recent article, Gasworld, a news organization for those in the gas industry, wrote that helium is utilized for a variety of industrial uses including, aerospace technology, electronics, MRI machines, welding and research.
Helium is so critical to these industries that in 2018 the U.S. Department of the Interior released a report that listed helium as one of 35 elements and minerals which are vital to U.S. security and economic prosperity.
According to Gasworld, the shortage is the result of several factors, including the depletion of the Federal Helium Reserve. Operated by the US Bureau of Land Management, the reserve is scheduled to shutdown in coming years.
Still, some students at Clark are upset that balloons will no longer be available.
“I do know that there are people that are frustrated because they were counting on there being balloons and now there’s not going to be, so they have to make other accommodations for their events and they have to find other ways to decorate and advertise,” Regian said.
Feider did manage to find an upside to the situation, referring to the fact that plastic can be harmful to the environment.
“We’ve known for a long time that balloons are bad for the environment,” Feider said. “It’s always nice to have less of an impact on our environment.”