The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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We’re students, not a salesperson’s demographic

My least favorite part about walking from the Daily Sundial’s office in Manzanita Hall to the Matador Bookstore for lunch are the solicitors I encounter along the way.

Long before I am ready to yank out my debit card and buy myself a chicken sandwich at Burger King, a well-dressed man stops me in front of the bookstore. He starts telling me about starving kids who need food, and therefore need money, to survive. I try to brush him off.

Next, two guys lock on and try to get me to sign an initiative that will “finally stop the governator” from killing kids or whatever.

Finally, a guy jumps out at me and hollers something about free tickets to a movie. When I get inside, my progress is stopped by a person sitting at a Jostens table selling “official” CSUN class rings.

Good lord, I say to myself, I just want my overpriced chicken sandwich.

I don’t like it when someone tries to sell me something. I’ve never liked it. I think the concept of a salesperson “in this day and age” is beyond pointless. I can buy a car online. I can buy a bride online. I can buy a geographic region of Mars online. Lay off.

Even more, I don’t like it when someone tries to sell me something while I’m at school, when I’m trying to learn, or at least buying a chicken sandwich that will allow me to tolerate my next three-hour “learning session.”

Yes, I understand that my age group and level of disposable income puts me right in the Alpha group or whatever. Yes, I understand that the areas that these peddlers occupy are state and public property, making what they do probably legal.

Knowing the socioeconomic make up of our student body, however, suggests to me that I’m not the only one insulted by being solicited during school hours while the administration sits back and claps quietly. CSUN students pay way too much for their education as it is, and being treated like we’re at a mall – “You wanna buy a cell phone? How about a Cinnabon? How about a class ring?” – is just plain demeaning.

Right at the start of the semester, at least two guys who presumably do not go to CSUN started walking into classrooms in hopes of selling tickets to an off-campus comedy club. In classrooms, they identified themselves as being from “Special Events” or the student council or some sort of student organization.

Obviously, the guys’ plan was to talk themselves into a prime retail location – the classroom – pretend like they were from a student group and try to sell tickets to students. It happened in one of my classrooms. I almost vomited in anger.

But no one else seemed to mind! In one of my friend’s classes, I think some of the students actually bought the “discounted” tickets. The professors were the ones who were disturbed by the direct marketing techniques of the fraudulent salesmen.

Why? Was it because they were offended by the incident as educators? No, it was because they had never seen anything like that before. The students, on the other hand, see it every day, in every facet of their education. Why would it shock them?

Students are no longer students. We’re customers.

I see it at the bookstore, where students feel “lucky” when they escape a new semester without spending more than $400 on CD-ROMS and other meaningless text supplements. I see a vendor fair in front of the Bayramian Hall every other day and can’t figure out if students asked for it, or if someone put it there anyway. I see 15 dance club flyers stuck in my windshield wipers each night, and guys from the Lyndon LaRouche “organization” looking for new students to join the hive mind every afternoon.

What’s worse, however, I see it within CSUN itself. The new credit card processing fees at Cash Services are a great example, and so are tuition fees, which are at a point now where an 8 percent hike is considered low. In the real world, outside of higher education, the cost of doing business is passed along to the consumer.

The same now goes for higher education.

There was a time in California when students were students, with special rights that were afforded to them because they would someday lead the state to its profitable future.

Those days are over. Now we are but a customer, and the product is a three-hour per week class book-ended by solicitations, crazy LaRouchies and some guy who really, really wants me to sign a petition about parental notification and abortion.

While I know the glory days of California higher education are over, maybe the CSUN administration could at least put a stop to some of the solicitation on campus.

If they do that, perhaps students will be more willing to cough up an extra 8 percent or an extra 2.9 percent here or there to compensate for the inability of California taxpayers to continue paying for the education of its customers-er, I mean students.

Ryan Denham can be reached at

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