To the editor:
Unethical sidewalk solicitors have plagued this university, and it's time for them to stop.
Recently, while I was walking to class, I was approached by a pleasant gentleman in front of the PGH breezeway. He told me how good I looked and asked me to sign a petition to preserve the school lunch program. Despite being mainly conservative, I support this program and agreed to sign, although somewhat apprehensively, distrusting his niceties.
I took the petition and read it, but it was indeed NOT a petition for school lunches, but a petition to get his political party (the Natural Law Party) on the ballot.
I was disturbed at being lied to, and asked what the party's platform was. I was given a flier, and asked to sign again. He then verbally insulted me when I declined.
I took his flier and read it. I found no specific legislative agenda, no concrete ideas and no solid platform. My decision not to sign the petition was based on personal aversion to the ideas in the flier and my disinclination to support a party that uses lies and coercive techniques to achieve its goals.
I am concerned that well-meaning students for whatever reason will not take the time to investigate what they are signing and might be coerced into signing either by compliments or insults, a method I find entirely insidious and repulsive.
This is not the first time I have observed such pleas for support. A few months ago, a friend of mine was approached and asked to buy a magazine to help some charity. The young man complimented her and asked her out, then immediately stopped his attentions as soon as he got her money. Needless to say, she never got the magazine.
Where do these people come from? How do they get on our campus? Given the procedure one must go through to even get a flier on a bulletin board, how is it that they have permission to be operating on our campus, harassing students and lying to them?