Those guys with the clipboards in their hands. You’ve all seen them as you rush through campus with books in hand and a bag on your back.
“Are you registered to vote?”
You hear them yell as they come closer and closer to you. You know you are going to have to take a different route to Hasley Hall tomorrow.
They are the campus petitioners, and they can be seen throughout campus on almost any given day.
“I have to constantly dodge them, because I’ll end up feeling forced and having to spend 10 minutes filling out a bunch of information,” COC student Katia Lemus tells the Student Center. “I’ve had enough!”
But Lemus is not the only student who feels harassed by the petitioners.
“I’ve spent about 30 minutes already, signing petitions that I can’t even remember what the cause was for,” Laura Gallegos said. “Now that I think about it, it feels as if I was signing away a blank check.”
Students and staff members from College of the Canyons have noticed an increase in petitioners around campus. The Student Center has received a flood of complaints recently.
Students not only try to avoid the petitioners because they do not want to sign them, but because they also feel forced or harassed into signing something that they are uninformed about. Often times petitioners give a very brief summary of what the petition is and ask you to sign without allowing you to read the full text.
It is becoming a problem for students like Lemus, Gallegos and many others who have to take detours to avoid these petitioners. Many wonder if this will continue to happen year after year.
At COC’s Associated Student Government Senate meeting on Wednesday, the petitioners issue was the topic of interest. ASG’s student trustee, Ryan Joslin, brought up the issue.
“There’s a ton of them and they give us lip if we don’t sign their petitions,” he said.
“And they’re not supposed to be standing up and roaming the campus,” ASG President Anais Amin stated. “Yes, they are legally allowed on campus, there is no restriction towards that, but according to campus security they are supposed to be posted at a table.”
Campus rules say that in order for petitioners to be allowed on campus they must be seated at a table, but that is a rule they are breaking, according to COC students and ASG members. State law gives petitioners the right to go on campus, but the school can restrict when, where and at what time they are present.
The issue quickly began to get personal for many of the senate members.
The meeting room erupted with scenarios of the members being late to class, feeling harassed or forced by the petitioners.
“I try to avoid them,” Vice President of ICC Christine Colindres said. “It is so aggravating!”
“They should go cause problems somewhere else!” Amin added.
Parents and staff members are also beginning to worry. The safety of their children and students are their main concern.
“I worry about who these people are, no such background check is preformed on them,” parent Yesenia Urueta said. “We let unwanted strangers onto our campus.”
ASG, however, has a plan to combat the issue.
The ASG meeting concluded that Joslin and other senate members will voice out the issue and have a resolution by the next meeting on Wednesday, May 7.
Possible solutions include: conducting official background checks, moving all petitioners to one area, restricting them to one time period per day and having campus safety on-call at the times petitioners will be on campus just in case people are being harassed.
Some students support the possible solutions, but others fear it may be crossing the line.
“I agree they should approach us in a different way, but think about it, it can lead to people losing their jobs,” Sean Plousha said.
Plousha, a freshman, has been approached by many petitioners and despite the slight annoyance, he understands that they have a job to perform.
One 30-year-old anonymous petitioner and father of three explained that the income he produces through this job helps him pay his bills at the end of the month.
“I get paid $6 to $10 per signature. So getting the attention of students to sign my petitions is very important to me and my family.”
Cougar News explained the rules to another petitioner, but he and other petitioners will be around for now.
“I am still going to be out walking around because no one is patrolling me, and besides, the deadline for our petitions are due at the end of the month, so the amount of petitioners around on campus will die down soon.”
ASG is moving forward with a solution for their next Senate meeting. Senate meetings take place every Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. in room 129 in the Student Center.
President Amin confirmed that issues like these will not be tolerated.
“The school’s safety and comfort is ASGs number one priority,” she said.