– Allison Eilhardt, 19, is a CSUN communication major.
We’ve all been there — you’re sitting on campus studying or maybe you’re walking to your next class when out of nowhere there’s a solicitor breathing down your neck. This exact scenario is unfortunately a daily occurrence for most CSUN students.
Personally, as a full-time student I’m stopped by solicitors on campus on average at least five times a week. A majority of those encounters occurred as I attempted to study for class.
Being approached by a complete stranger can be terrifying. You’re unsure of what they may want from you or what they’ll utter next. Not every soliciting encounter is on friendly terms. To some students, a dogmatic solicitor preaching of hell or saving lives can be an annoyance.
College is the place where we come to learn and thrive on campus with our peers.
In fact, according to a Her Campus article, “studies show that repeatedly studying in the same ideal spot can enhance learning.” But how can we find the time to excel when we are constantly being interrupted and solicited to?
It is common for a student to be approached about some topic while sitting alone on campus. This scenario is the environment in which most students find it best to read a book or study.
Similarly, common walkways for students on their way to class become targets for solicitors. By constantly stalling or even stopping students on their way to class, these solicitors are hindering their pursuit of education. Also, the strategic placement of these people makes it difficult for students to avoid, especially when they’re running late to class.
Besides the public nuisance solicitors create on campus, there is some ambiguity behind their actual usefulness. If students really were interested in the topics that the solicitors promoted, they would seek them out on campus rather than the opposite.
Jeff Grabmeier said in an Ohio State University article that, “seven out of 10 college students feel stressed about their personal finances, according to a new national survey.”
College students are rarely in the financial position to contribute to a cause, let alone one they’ve only just been informed of. And for that matter, how are they to know which causes are legitimate in the moment they’re being hustled?
On another note of uselessness, just recently there was a man on campus near the Sierra Tower shouting and preaching his religious views in a malicious manner toward students. There is a lot of speculation over what exactly occurred at the scene, but police were involved in placing caution tape around where the man was soliciting. Beyond this, they stuck around and observed to ensure nothing violent broke out.
At what point does taking away police force from actual emergencies make sense? It seems that soliciting on campus only takes away from students’ ability to learn.
Despite the mounting concerns about the negatives of solicitors on campus, some could argue that students could ignore or decline the solicitation. Although this notion is valid to some degree, students should not have to be subjected to this dogged behavior in a place of learning. Furthermore, not all students are comfortable in declining and not all solicitors are polite in asking for the person’s time. Many of my encounters were people shouting at me, hoping to grab my attention as I skated by them.
Another conversation starter used is to ask a rhetorical question. “Hello, do you care about starving children?” It sounds simple in theory to decline or ignore a solicitor, but in reality that task may prove much more intimidating.
But how can students reduce their likelihood of being targeted on campus? Like most university campuses, CSUN has an open campus. This means that anyone can be on campus despite student status.
This does not prove to be a problem until these outsiders begin to aggressively solicit students.
Action needs to be taken to limit these distracting influences on campus. This action would need to be made in the form of a policy revision.
There already exists a policy concerning soliciting and appropriate behavior. However, it is not enforced. It is imperative that the CSUN student body unites in demanding that the outside solicitors be enforced in their appropriate content, method of recruitment and dogged behavior. Students have enough to worry about — being harassed on campus should not have to be on that list.