After living on campus, I've been exposed to just about every type of activism out there in the scary world of right and wrong, where people become numbers in a giant competition of who can prove their cause is more worthy.
Come on, you know what I'm talking about. We're bombarded all year long with driven students like the bright-eyed and cheery Young Democrats begging you to sign an e-mail list or the innocent, but creepy, freshman who unceasingly approaches you with, "Hey, you doing anything Friday night? Come to Campus Crusade for Christ." (I'd seriously like to go to a Christian recruiting workshop to see what it is that propels them to flock to you like salesmen to doorstops.)
The worst part of all the people-grabbing mayhem is that I can't recollect anything from these students other than what they did to stop me on the Mall. It's so ridiculous that I've developed "pushy club" radar, and I refuse to even listen to them anymore.
Their tactics for recruitment are completely devoid of respect and it baffles me. The golden rule should apply here: Respect the customer. Throwing themselves upon random strangers in hopes that the shock value alone will interest them reminds me more of a rude hostess who throws menus on your table and runs away. Can I hear the soup of the day or your specialties?
Wouldn't it be helpful if I knew why you wanted me to come hang out with you Friday night? Blind and abrasive ignorance has taken over numerous groups across campus, whose serious and pertinent issues deserve to be heard.
I was struck by a refreshingly new way of "getting the word out" during my summer spent in San Francisco. Their unofficial motto, "anything goes," floods the streets; which put to rest my fear of being threatened by all the outrageous acts so often associated with the stimulating metropolis. I was enamored by a variety of people who represented contrasting viewpoints without all the prejudice of who's right and who's wrong. When you sense this passive diversity in the city, excitement drives you to listen or watch out of curiosity to just about anything.
Ironically enough, it was PETA who attracted me one afternoon to Union Square. Known infamously as an organization that haunts our minds with angry thoughts of protesters dumping paint on fashionable fur lovers or women standing stark naked in cages, their ranting about the ethical treatment of animals is a clear and legitimate message that gets lost in a league of emotional and frenzied liberals fearing that no one will listen to them.
That day they were handing out stickers with catchy little phrases. A bug-eyed, over-simplified, but beaming with yellow, joyful baby chick struck my fancy. Accompanying this delightful cartoon was the phrase, "I am not a nugget."
OK, for all of you who grew up on McDonald's chicken nuggets, think about this image for a second.
This sticker represented the depressing connection between my nostalgic childhood and the murderous truth of what we eat, of which I never realized before. McDonald's lasting impression on my youth and the well-needed reality check actually made me feel sorry for the chickens that live and die every day to become part of an advertising scheme.
Despite all the emotional turmoil drawn from the educational, but quirky sticker, PETA hasn't convinced me to become a vegetarian and protest the defamation of fuzzy creatures; but I almost felt indebted to these birds to improve their short and pathetic lives. News like KFC's cruel de-beaking of chickens in the slaughterhouse mean so much more to me now.
PETA should be commended for their off the wall and emotion-ridden slogans that distract us for a moment from our busy and hectic lives to say, "Oh, wow, I never saw it like that." This is exactly what I propose to all the quantity-centered clubs out there.
The time has come for clubs to remind themselves that interrupting someone's day - with a rushed speech or a forced questionnaire, or whatever the tactic is - leads them nowhere.
Try making a list of cheesy headlines for banners, or print some interesting facts on buttons. Any non-traditional approach is sure to win some favor being that so many of us trendy students have attitudes towards just about everything.
The age of verbal assaults and Mall run-downs are over. Especially during the election, where viewpoints are constantly being thrown in our faces, it's time for a more peaceful and perhaps more silent approach to recruitment.
Lauren Peckler is a sophomore majoring English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.