Cal State LA students fed up with petitioners on campus

Picture+of+a+petitioner+and+their+tent+on+the+main+walkway+on+campus.

Cornell Chuaseco

Petitioners on campus are set up along the walkway and students are uncomfortable with them there.

Mia Alva, Editor-in-Chief

Ever since Cal State LA students returned to in-person classes for the spring semester, petitioners have had a negative impact around campus. 

Students have been followed, harassed and yelled at after telling petitioners a simple “no.”

Business administration major January Regino didn’t think twice after noticing a number of petitioners during the first week back on campus. 

As the weeks passed, she noticed fewer petitioners, and they seemed to have a change in tone. 

“The first week I think [the petitioners] were really excited to get a lot of signatures, but right now, it’s kind of like they’re really pushing to see who else hasn’t signed,” said Regino. 

One petitioner prompted Regino for a signature, and when she asked what it was for, he asked her, “Can you just sign it?” 

Even though she has already signed two petitions about student-athletes and rent control, she said he still didn’t respect her time when she said she had to go. 

“When I told him I didn’t have time for the third one, he became almost desperate,” she said. “He was like, ‘Come on, just sign one more,’ and I’m like, ‘I really have to go’, and then after that, I just left. But ever since then, even though I tell these people I already signed it a couple of weeks ago, they just tell me it’s a different one each time. They don’t care. They just want you to sign it.”

The second time she was approached, a petitioner yelled at her, and she had to resort to telling him that she was not a registered voter in order to get away. 

“I said, ‘I’m sorry, I already got to go,’ and as I was walking away, I put my earphones in and he just started yelling after me,” she said. “He was like, ‘Come on, just sign it real quick.’”

Although Regino’s encounters didn’t get any worse, she has heard of other students with worse experiences. 

Michelle Fanara, a first-year educational doctorate student, has only been to campus three times this semester. Each time she has been approached by a petitioner. 

Fanara specifically remembers a time when she was studying with a group, and some aggressive petitioners approached her.

“They were super pushy and didn’t want to take ‘no’ for an answer,” she said. “I was meeting with my small group from a class, and we had to lie and tell them that we had no time because we really needed to study for a midterm.”

Another time, she was followed by a petitioner and had to resort to hiding in the restroom for safety. Fanara believes the university should have a protocol set up for petitioners on campus. 

“I feel like the university should make the petitioners fill out a request to be on the campus because right now they are doing nothing to prevent them from harassing us or to keep us safe,” she said. 

Over the past three weeks, sociology major Brian Estrada has been approached by about four to six petitioners while on campus. 

Estrada has had a variety of experiences from good to bad when interacting with petitioners. 

“Some keep begging me to sign after I’ve said ‘no,’” he said. “Others understand. Some get angry and mumble words under their breath if you reject them.”

Estrada thinks they should be banned due to the negative atmosphere they bring to campus. 

“They make us students feel uncomfortable, especially when we’re trying to chill down after a stressful class or when we try to concentrate on doing homework,” he said. 

Although many petitioners have good intentions some students say, others are asking for too much of a time commitment from busy students at Cal State LA. 

“I think they do have good intentions, but they just need to learn that we’re humans and we have the right to say ‘no,’” said Estrada. 

“Petitioners and other solicitors seen on campus are not affiliated with the university,” according to the Communications and Public Affairs Office. “However, because Cal State LA is a public university, they are allowed on campus.” 

The office stated that university representatives have spoken to some petitioners after hearing about their aggressive behavior but add that students are “not obligated to speak with, give money to, or provide information to any petitioner or solicitor who approaches them.” 

Students who have complaints should contact the Office of the Dean of Students

“If anyone believes they have been the victim of a crime because of their interaction with a petitioner or solicitor on campus, please contact the Department of Public Safety,” said the university.