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The University Magazine

Big Bash: Balloons and more

From the Archives 1988

Archived Image
Archived Image
Archived Image

Students and staff arriving at RIT on Friday, April 15, 1988, were greeted by an amazing sight. The Administrative Circle in front of the Student Alumni Union was filled with thousands of balloons linked together to form fanciful floral creations.

These were the work of 80 students who gathered at 4:30 a.m., braving wind and chilly temperatures to assemble what became the centerpiece for the Second Annual Big Bash. This event was much bigger than the first – and was never duplicated.

David Dougherty ’88 (microelectronic engineering) and Clint Fern ’89 (photographic technology) were co-chairs of the event, sponsored by the Student Directorate.

 “The main goal was not only to increase school spirit but to increase intereaction between students and faculty,” recalls Fern, who served as student-faculty coordinator for the Student Directorate. Fern, who lives in Lebanon, Pa., remembers getting up early, “ingesting a lot of helium” and partying with the faculty and administrators who joined in the effort. “It was a lot of fun,”

Besides the giant balloon sculpture, activities included a special breakfast, a ’50s theme lunch served by faculty, free food throughout the day, tours of the Eastman Building seventh floor administrative suite, a student-faculty talent show and a dance that night. Students also had the chance to buy raffle tickets for the opportunity to trade places with one of several RIT administrators for a day.

“Back then school spirit was hard to find, and there was very little interaction with faculty outside the classroom,” says Dougherty, who lives in Austin, Texas. “Our motivation was to have a day of activities to draw the students and faculty together. It was a big success. Fred Smith’s (then vice president of Student Affairs and now secretary of the institute) version of La Bamba in the talent show was unforgettable.”

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