By Viewpoints editorial staff
Harassing and deceiving people are not the same as advocating for change. Many petitioners and other unwanted solicitors pestering Riverside City College clearly don’t get the difference.
Many movements — #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and Indigenous Peoples Visibility to name a couple — have all called for true equality. Some began through simple movements such as door-to-door advocating, protests and petitioning.
There is a big difference between these petitioners who infiltrate RCC and those who are legitimately trying to make positive change in their communities.
Each California Community College and University of California campus are public properties, meaning anyone can walk onto campus. However, petitioners are required to obtain a permit to collect signatures and must disclose on the form if they are being paid according to California state law.
Lately many petitioners wandering through RCC have continued to deceive students, show aggression to those who ignore them and begun spilling into spaces they are prohibited from entering and soliciting signatures from. The Salvatore G. Rotella Digital Library and Learning Resource Center (DL) are the most targeted areas but are part of those prohibited areas.
Anyone passing by the petitioners is approached, questioned and often publicly harassed and scolded if they don’t comply.
Students, faculty and staff should not have to worry about aggressive solicitations while heading to class, on their way to the cafeteria to enjoy a tasty cheeseburger or finally heading home after a long day on campus.
RCC already has an area for people to voice their concerns, express views and inform people called the “Free Speech” area which is located in between the Robert T. Dixon Planetarium and Ralph H. Bradshaw Building. This is where the petitioners should be. This area ensures visibility and communication to all students and facilities without distributing the flow of school activities.
Students need to be informed and realize what they are signing for. In some cases the petitioners are explaining the complete opposite, just to get signatures. If RCC is going to continue to be a safe place for all, students and staff need to be aware of what they’re signing for and challenge the misleading solicitors.
Riverside Community College District policy form No. 3550 thoroughly explains that any petitioner who wishes to push these public forms must check in with the Dean of student services. How many know this and act upon this policy? It’s evident this code has not been enforced.
Most recently one of our editors was approached by “non-denominational Christians representing the Church of God,” who admitted to not having administrative permission.
This is exemplary of why there is a need to enforce District policies, it’s not just petitioners following people around waving a clipboard in the air.
There are people coming to our school with no knowledge of what rules they need to follow but yet are fully prepared to push for signatures and spread their ideologies around campus.
RCCD administration has put these policies in place to prevent issues like these from occurring. Yet little to nothing has been done for students being harassed by people who don’t have permission to.