Despite a campus policy requiring all solicitors to register with the Matador Involvement Center and receive permits, not all of them follow through, said Tom Piernik, director of Student Development and International Programs.
“Ideally, they all should get a permit,” Piernik said. “Do they always? No. I don’t want to claim that we have total control over the people that come to the campus.”
According to the Regulations and Procedures Solicitation of Funds and Commercially Oriented Activity policy, all solicitors need to identify themselves and file applications with the Matador Involvement Center. At the completion of the solicitation, a financial statement must also be filed with the center.
“They must register so we know that it’s a legitimate offer,” Piernik said. “(Students) could be given fraudulent (offers, including) movie tickets.”
As a public institution, the university cannot limit what vendors say or sell due to protections afforded under the First Amendment, Piernik said.
“As a campus, we cannot limit free speech,” Piernik said. “We can’t tell them what to sell, what to say, but we can give them regulations on time, place, and manner.”
According to Vicki Allen, assistant director of Student Development and International Programs, campus affiliated organizations can solicit freely.
“Solicitation is a privilege for departments, students and organizations in the campus community,” said Allen. “Solicitation is open to these organizations to generate funds for programs on campus. People not affiliated with the campus cannot solicit unless they go through an application process.”
But solicitation and the distribution of literature are two different issues, Allen said.
CSUN has a separate policy regulating the distribution of literature, which is classified into two categories: commercial and non-commercial, she said.
According to the Policy on Distribution of Literature, a person interested in soliciting must complete an application to distribute literature and file a copy of the material to be distributed in the Office of Student Development. If permission is granted, the material will be stamped and will serve as a permit for distribution.
The Policy on Distribution of Literature states that non-commercial literature is protected under the First Amendment. Non-commercial literature expresses views, opinions, beliefs or information regarding meetings that will be held to discuss religious or political issues.
Commercial literature is defined as literature designed is to advertise merchandise, property, businesses, or services, with the goal of making a profit.
Credit card solicitation is commonly seen on campus, and could cause a problem for students who have no previous credit or debt education.
According to a 2002 report by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, 83 percent of undergraduate students have at least one credit card in their name, while 96 percent of graduate students carry an average of six credit cards. The report also showed that the average credit card balance is $2,347 and that by the time students graduate, some graduate students have doubled their average credit card balance and tripled the number of credit cards in their wallets.
To remedy this problem, in September 2001, former California Gov. Gray Davis signed into law the Student Financial and Responsibility Act, which states that credit card and debt education must be provided at student orientations.
“The act is helpful,” Allen said. “It helps students understand about credit, debt, and how to use it wisely.”
An organization that has come to CSUN on several occasions is Save the Children, with a mission to help poor children from turning to crime.
“People allow us to come and speak about these issues, because they have heard of us,” said Maricia Madrano, a Save the Children representative. “If you say you don’t have time to talk about these issues, that is pretty sad.”
Piernik said there has never been a situation when a student has felt threatened by a solicitor, but he encourages students to come forth if a dangerous situation occurs.
“Students have not reported being harassed by a solicitor,” Piernik said. “If a student is made to feel uncomfortable by a solicitor, we will get the police to escort them out.”