By Shelby Willard
A Cal Poly Pomona student has started an online petition to halt the sale of SeaWorld theme park tickets at the university.
Ryan Hajek, a first-year hospitability management student, hopes to gain at least 1,000 signatures on his Change.org petition before presenting it to Associated Students, Inc. President James Cox, as well as Acting Vice President for Student Affairs Rebecca Gutierrez Keeton.
Hajek started the petition on Jan. 23. According to the petition, the goal is “that Cal Poly Pomona will make the conscientious decision to end all sales of tickets to SeaWorld, cutting all university ties with the company.”
The controversial documentary “Blackfish,” released in 2013, has caused many people to rethink visiting SeaWorld. The documentary explores the theme park’s use of captive orcas for entertainment. At Cal State Long Beach, students and faculty successfully halted the sale of SeaWorld tickets back in November.
“After seeing it done at Long Beach, I said we should be doing that [at CPP],” Hajek said.
The tickets have been available for students to purchase at a discounted price through the Games Room Etc.
The Games Room Etc. staff was unaware of the petition, but were skeptical of the complete halt of sales.
Miguel Vasquez, a staff member at the Games Room Etc., explained that many foreign exchange students hear about the theme park and want to go.
“The tickets are really popular,” said Vasquez. “Actually, I just sold two today.”
So far, the petition has over 800 signatures. The petition has gained unbelievable momentum since it began.
“The public concern for SeaWorld is changing right now,” Hajek said. “It’s an ideal time to focus on it.”
“I searched CPP on Twitter the other day, and most of the tweets that I saw were not about Cal Poly Pomona, but about Cal Poly Pomona stopping the sales of SeaWorld tickets,” Hajek said.
The petition can be accessed online by anyone.
“We have signatures from almost every continent, except Antarctica obviously,” Hajek said.
The majority of signatures Hajek has gotten so far have been through spreading the petition through social media.
“We have yet to tap into the student population on campus,” Hajek said.
However, Hajek hopes to start tabling on campus to reach his goal of 1,000 signatures.
According to Hajek, a group of animal activists will help with the tabling. The group, Bronco Animal Rights Network, hopes to become a recognized club in the upcoming year.
“BARN is a small group of students with an interest in animal rights that are looking to influence change on campus by doing on-campus outreach events, advocating and tabling on campus,” Hajek said.
Hajek hopes that through this petition, he can raise awareness about animal rights.
In addition to the petition, BARN is also hoping to start “Meatless Mondays” at Los Olivos on campus. The group is working with Los Olivos Executive Chef Arnold Zavalza.
“It’s always been in the back of my head that I’ve always wanted to get animal rights more going on campus,” Hajek said.
Hajek explained that most people have been receptive to the petition and wish to see a change on campus. His work, however, is not over.
“I know it’s within reach here,” Hajek said. “I know it’s completely possible. It’s just getting people on board to do that.”
Sungah Choi / The Poly Post
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