Solicitors target campus

Caleb Wasson

Not all knocks on the door are welcome at Washburn University.Washburn has a strict policy that forbids any individual, group or affiliate from going door-to-door in the residence halls. Selling, fundraising and placing fliers under doors or on doorknobs are forbidden acts. “There is simply no soliciting permitted in our residential setting,” said Takama Statton-Brooks, director of residential living.This policy has been tested time and time again by door-to-door magazine salesman hoping to make a quick buck off college students.”Just about every year, right around the same time, we get people coming in and soliciting magazine subscriptions,” said Statton-Brooks.Admittance into residential living units on Washburn campus is restricted to residents and their guests. The Living Learning Center and Washburn Village are each access controlled buildings. Residents must swipe their iCards and enter a PIN number on a keypad before being let in. These security measures have not stopped solicitors from getting inside.”Kuehne Hall and West Hall are corridors-solicitors can walk right up to the student’s doors,” said Statton-Brooks. “Solicitors have also been known to follow students inside the residence halls,” said Statton-Brooks.Ed White, lieutenant of the Washburn University police department, said solicitors have approached students at all hours of the day. White advises that many of these door-to-door solicitors are out to scam students. “Students are approached by solicitors because they are seen as easy targets,” said White. “Students tend to have cash on them and many students have credit cards.” The standard operating procedure for magazine companies is to work in teams, White said, with each hitting a sector of campus and meeting back at a checkpoint. Often, they don’t carry identification and have plenty of reasons why they must sell you the product or need your help. “They are very forward and have been rude to several students,” said White. “Students should never give them any type of identification or personal information. This includes checks, credit card numbers and phone numbers.”While residential halls are off limits to solicitation, the university cannot limit soliciting and free speech in public areas on campus.For several years, members of Westboro Baptist Church have used the sidewalks around campus as a place to express a certain ideology. They are allowed to do so becauseWashburn is a public university located within the city of Topeka. “Washburn is one of the few universities that are open to the public,” said Rebekah Phelps-Roper, freshman business/nursing major and member of Westboro Baptist Church. “Therefore, the sidewalks can be used for free and open public debate.”Since Washburn’s campus is publicly owned property, members of the general public have access to the campus and are subject to restrictions imposed by the University’s Facilities Use Policy. These restrictions do not impede on the right of free speech.”People need to shut up and quit whining about it,” said Phelps-Roper. “This is a First Amendment thing and a Constitution thing. If you have something that you want to say, you can grab a sign and go out on the sidewalk. Anyone can do it.”Communicative activity such as picketing, demonstrations and solicitation on Washburn campus are subject to the following restrictions:

Classrooms and classroom areas in University buildings are for the conducting of classes only and picketing and demonstration in such areas by non-students is not permitted. Communicative activities by students in such areas may be subject to the Student Disciplinary Code.

Student housing is for private residential purposes only and is not a public area. Picketing and demonstrations in such areas by non-residents of student housing is not permitted.

Picketing, demonstration, or other activity which disrupts, interferes with or impedes the conducting of classes, day to day business of the University, student housing, or the orderly function of an event sanctioned by the University is not permitted.