Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge the canvassers

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EPSON MFP image

Cecilia Torres

Reporter

If you’ve walked into to the library lately with your head down trying not to make eye contact with the people holding clipboards, you’re not alone. It can be frustrating when they won’t take no for an answer.

Because it is a public university, CSU Bakersfield allows solicitors on campus, which can include canvassers collecting signatures. Due to the upcoming midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6, there have been people around campus doing just that.

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that the majority of voters in the last presidential election were younger, which explains why canvassers might target a university like CSUB.

The Fall 2017 report by the office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment showed that 80 percent of CSUB students are under the age of 25.

Petitions have an important role in our democracy, because they contribute to people’s voices being heard by our representatives. However, canvassers can scare people as they try to get their attention.

Michelle Leigh, a junior psychology major, finds that interacting with signature collectors can be pleasant depending on the approach they take.

“One lady that was very personable caught my ear. She was very friendly,” Leigh said. “There’s one group I avoid. I made it obvious I was avoiding them. They seemed more irritated.”

Petitioners can be too pushy at times. One day I was walking to the library, on my way to class and a canvasser tried to stop me. I was running late, so I politely told the woman gathering signatures no. She insisted that it would only take about five minutes. I continued to walk towards my class and that’s the only reason she stopped.

“I just scoot around them [because] I need to get to class,” said Mikala Lee, a junior liberal studies major.

‘It will only take five minutes,’ is what you will hear if you say no. That should not persuade students. As college students, we are taught to read critically, analyze text, stay informed and ask questions.

On occasions like these, we are letting individuals influence our opinions without getting all the facts. They benefit from students being in a hurry and not doing their due diligence to ask the right question, and they are paid for every signature they collect.

Despite some negative opinions on canvassers, students find that their presence on campus is still a good thing.

“I think it’s okay having them on campus,” said Leigh. “We spend so much time here in like our own cocoon. We aren’t exposed to issues that need to be addressed.”

“They’re fine as long as they don’t bug over and over, because it’s a good way to get us involved,” said Lee.

It should be clear to students that canvassers have an important purpose, which is why you should take the time to learn about the issues they propose to you and seriously think about them.