The Bell Tower has been littered with volunteers for various organizations attempting to recruit students as members and activists for several years.
Recently, frequenting solicitors include Students for Environmental Action, the 9/11 Truth Movement and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
As these organizations persistently distribute pamphlets, students become more conscious to the movement while growing impatient and uncomfortable with their vigor.
“It’s annoying,” junior journalism major Adrian Fedkiw said. “If they just had stands and let people pick them up, it would be fine.”
The barrage of pamphlets distributed by organizations are intended to grab student’s attention and alert them to the various causes that they advocate.
“It’s up to me. I have to draw their attention,” said Joe Sims, a junior environmental studies major, while handing out pamphlets for SEA.
Essentially, this creates a great deal of impatience among the general student population.
“I’m just in a rush for class, so I just don’t take them,” Fedkiw said.
At the same time, many solicitors believe the effect of their pamphlets elicit a positive response from the majority of students.
“Students are itching to help, but there’s no outlet,” said Mathew Himmelein, a senior environmental studies major.
Himmelein, the president of SEA, said he understands that not all students who receive flyers will be interested in learning about the situation, let alone becoming involved.
“We probably will reach about 500 students,” he said.
Often, the other 1,500 students who receive flyers can be seen shoving them into their book bags or crumbling them up before throwing them into nearby trash can.
Although the majority of students employ various “cold-shoulder” methods, the volunteers are not persuaded to give up.
Whether students are on the phone, listening to their iPod or actually using their shoulders to nudge volunteers out of their way, the distributors continue handing out information.
“We’ve been spit at,” said senior sociology major Nick Carangio of the 9/11 Truth Movement. “But responses have been getting better over time. We have to get more people active.”
Carangio said he understands some students are annoyed by his group’s tactics, while others are more receptive to it.
“We’re taking a different approach. Last semester, we had a bull horn. Now, we let people come in on their own accord,” he said.
But the 9/11 Truth Movement can still be found weekly and on the 11th day of every month standing at the Bell Tower dispersing pamphlets to unresponsive students.
Like the 9/11 Truth Movement, volunteers for the Uhuru Solidarity Movement hand out pamphlets destined for the trash cans.
“A lot of people will stop, look at the pamphlet and come back,” said Allison Hoehne, a national organizer for the Uhuru Movement.
But the amount of people that actually volunteer and are legitimately interested is very small, especially for Uhuru.
Kristy Schneider, the president of Temple’s Uhuru chapter and a graduate student studying social work, said the group only has 10 members.
“We need new members,” Schneider said.
These groups, which distribute pamphlets during the hectic hours of school, are attempting raise awareness of their cause. But the positive outcome is typically limited only to increasing consciousness about their organizations.
Although some students are genuinely interested and concerned with these group’s activities and causes, most are just in a rush or simply do not care.
After finishing classes for the day, sophomore pre-nursing major Ryan Irving was in no rush as he glanced forward and brushed off a pamphlet.
“I’ve got my own issues. I’m not interested in anyone else’s.” he said.
Other students do take the time to join organizations and their listservs.
For the few who sign up, it makes the activists efforts worth while.
“Our main goal is to get people to join,” Himmelein said.
Yet, for even the most uninterested of students, the awkward moment of refusing a pamphlet or thowing one away could deprive them of an opportunity for knowledge, activism or simply a chance to voice personal opinions.
Daniel Weisbein can be reached at email@example.com.