Commentary if I may.. (An Opinion)

Josh Hanson

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If I may take a minute or two to bring to your attention the increased presence of petitioners and signature gathers on campus.  I understand that there may be a passion for the causes, but the lengths at which the signature gathers are going have piqued my interest.

Registered voters appear to be their biggest target.  The question that I hear the most is “are you registered to vote?”  The funny thing is these collectors don’t care if you express your rights as a citizen by voting, they have a petition they want you to sign.  Common sense tells us that the question is just a hook that their throwing out there, but it’s a lot easier opening than having to explain their presence on campus.

Petition drives and signature collectors have almost become a constant nuisance at supermarkets and shopping centers, but if you’re registered for classes and walking through the quad, should you be subject to harassment?

Let me explain for fear of being misunderstood.  There are issues that require petitions and its necessary to get enough signatures to bring attention to such issues.  That’s okay, and finding people to help support their cause is understandable.  The harassment of someone who doesn’t support the cause or doesn’t have time to sign a petition, should not be allowed by the forces behind the petition drive let alone the college they are guests at.

The hook “do you want to help save a child?”  is very clever.  It’s clever because there is no good way to say “no” to the person holding the clip board.  If you do say no or ignore the collector it’s implied and sometimes vocalized by these petitioners that you don’t want to save the life of a child.  What if that’s not true?  What if you believe in a grey line between the two sides where individual freedom and privacy are?  What if you believe the Government has no business in the area?  Should you be subjected to a petitioner following you and loudly asking “why don’t you want to save a child’s life?”  “God Bless you anyway.”  I’m always happy to hear someone say “God Bless you” but if it’s done in a negative context it ruins the purpose.

Students pay tuition for classes.  They support the bookstore by buying their books from it, they pay for parking, and they buy their coffee and their lunch from the campus café.  Students shell out a lot of cash to attend college.   The fact that students pay to be here should entitle them to walk freely through the quad.  If there are signature collectors on campus, give them a certain area to set up, and let willing students approach them.