A nuisance to some and a convenient resource to others, solicitors and student organizations retain the right to hand out materials and promote causes and events on campus through various channels.
“We pass (flyers) out, and if they don’t want it, fine,” said Michelle Palafox, senior health administration major and member of the Latina-based sorority Lambda Theta Nu. “They don’t have to take it. If they take it and they throw it away, you know you can’t appeal to everybody. If they’re interested, they come to you.”
Palafox said she believes she is not targeting the community with what the sorority is doing, but rather trying to help the community as a resource.
For some students on campus, awareness for these solicitors is very limited.
“I just try to avoid them unless their really interesting, said Edward Cheang, senior Asian American Studies major. “I tend to walk by them or not really look at them.”
Karen Delgado, junior CTVA major, said there are too many solicitors on campus, but that solicitors serve as a good resource at CSUN because of the variety of people that are on campus.
If and when she is given a flyer by a solicitor on campus, she said she goes through a decision process about what to do with it.
“If it (is) good, I put it in my pocket,” she said. “If it (is) not good I’ll wait until they’re not looking and throw it away.”
According to Jamison Keller, activities coordinator for the Matador Involvement Center, an on-campus organization must meet certain qualifications to promote on campus and be recognized by the Associated Students and the university.
Palafox said to promote something on campus, an organization has to get permission from the MIC, and receive consent two days before the actual promotion.
Off-campus organizations and individuals also frequent CSUN outside the Matador Bookstore, between Jerome Richfield Hall and the Oviatt Library, and near Bayramian Hall, formerly the Student Services Building, among others.
Most commonly, individuals look for signatures for proposition consideration, the promotion of their own music, or to get students to come to a free movie screening as members of a test audience.
The group Vegan Outreach, an organization focused against animal cruelty, is one of those off-campus solicitors. Vegan Outreach did not have the sponsorship of an on-campus organization, but its representative, who declined to reveal his name, still came on campus without signing paperwork with the Matador Involvement Center.
He said he has been to the campus three times already and that the message the organization sends is aimed at high school and college students.
He said he has no problem dealing with students because he has worked as a high school teacher for the past 20 years.
He said he knows, however, that some students will reject his organization’s message.
“If you’re expecting 100 percent of the students to take the paper (and read it) cover to cover you’re going to be disappointed,” he said. “It depends on the campus (and on) the day.”
“It really depends. Sometimes 100 percent of the students, literally 100 percent, take the pamphlet and (when) you walk around they’re reading it or they’re discussing it,” he said. “Other times, it’s like they don’t want to look at it.”
He was working in front of the Matador Bookstore last week.
For him, it was not the best location of the day. Shade from the afternoon sun was the only reason he was out there handing out pamphlets, he said.
“I generally look for busy spots, a lot of traffic,” he said. “The more students, the more pamphlets I give out.”
The Matador Bookstore Lawn is used by various organizations.
According to David Nirenberg, director of commercial services for the University Corporation, most on-campus organizations conduct their promotions near that area.
Because the campus is considered to be a state property, Keller said, anyone can work outside the Matador Bookstore Complex, including off-campus solicitors.
“We request that any organization that is coming on campus that distributes information, we request to the best of our ability that they register, mainly for the safety of our students and for them,” Keller said.
Keller said the campus once had both a pro-choice and pro-life organization show up and refuse to register with the university, but he added that on-campus solicitation rarely leads to confrontation.
According to Nirenberg, as long as the off-campus vendor is not doing anything illegal, they are using their right to free speech and the university cannot do anything to stop them. If the solicitor is trying something of a commercial nature, however, the university has the power to interfere, he said.
“They have freedom of speech since it’s a public institution. They can come on campus and do that,” Keller said. “(If) it ever got to the point were there’s an act of protest where there’s safety and security issues, then, only then, would we call (the Department of) Public Safety to take care of the situation.”
John Barundia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.