Many petitioners won’t take “no” for an answer

I had just started my first semester at Long Beach State, I was barely learning my way around the university, trying to navigate a completely new and seemingly massive campus all while seeking out community in those around me. Only days into my second week on campus, I was approached by a petition campaigner.

With a smile and a friendly handshake, he told me he was a political science student working on a project that required him to gather 100 signatures. He emphasized that it was simply a simulation for a class and that by signing I’d be helping him get through the course.

“Sure, why not?” I thought to myself. I had nothing to lose by helping a fellow student out.

A week later, I got an email notifying me that my political party on my voter registration had officially been changed to the “Common Sense Party.”

I immediately remembered signing this alleged student’s petition. A quick scroll on Google reassured me I wasn’t alone in this. Countless other registered voters had been duped into changing their political party status by the same organization.

After the major inconvenience of figuring out how to change my voter registration info back, I swore I’d never sign another petition on campus again. I learned my lesson.

People asking you to sign their petition or sign up for their mailing lists are seemingly everywhere on campus, and they often won’t take “no” for an answer.

Many of my friends have shared stories of times that they were heckled by someone asking them to sign petitions, or if they’re registered to vote in the state of California.

Some of them have come up with interesting excuses. “I’m 17,” they say, but they’re actually 19. “I’m from out of state,” but they’ve lived in Long Beach all their lives.

Many people will say that all you have to do is ignore them and keep walking.

That’s fairly simple, right? But for us people-pleasers, this is a task easier said than done. Standing our ground and saying “no” is already hard enough. When someone refuses to accept that “no” it puts us in a deeply uncomfortable situation.

The issue isn’t with people trying to gather signatures for an important issue. The problem lies in people with ulterior motives trying to get unknowing students to sign petitions they know nothing about. Many of these people aren’t activists or non-profit organizers, instead they’re just trying to meet a quota so that they can get paid.

As a first-year student, it was intimidating. I struggled to find my place on campus, and when these people would approach me, they were hard to ignore.

Halfway through my time at CSULB, I’ve mastered the art of simply walking past these people, but it certainly wasn’t always this easy.

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