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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Environmentalists, evangelists share offensive tactics”

    The UA campus is beginning to remind me of a horror film.

    There are places you shouldn’t walk alone, not because you’ll get mugged, but because you’ll be startled by dozens of different club recruiters who will catch you by surprise or pick fights before letting you carry on with your day.

    A week ago, I walked toward the often-isolated area behind the Highland residence halls. Hiding around the corner of Posada San Pedro stood a campus evangelist. After gasping and feeling my heart rate spike, I politely declined, but couldn’t believe any type of recruiter would hide behind buildings to prey upon and corner vulnerable students. Creeping up on another person is invasive, and having a stranger do this is even more threatening and unwanted.

    As someone who consistently tabled for the College Republicans and various other clubs in the past, I understand the importance of student outreach, which should always be positive. I approached as many people as possible, but never scolded or followed someone who didn’t want to join my club, and I didn’t make them feel guilty about not donating money to a cancer organization. The same cannot be said about the Arizona Environmentalists, who exercise more aggressive and sometimes disrespectful tactics to cajole students into supporting the movement.

    “”Do you have a minute for the environment?”” Arizona Environmentalists say when they catch a student off guard.

    This manipulative phrasing is enough of a deferment. This approach is shamelessly coated with coercion and guilt, and it’s no way to connect with students. Even if a student is heading off to class, as he should on a university campus, he’ll feel guilty about saying he does not, in fact, have a minute to talk, and he’s probably not lying. With only ten minutes between classes, there’s no time for club interactions. Even if someone cares about the environment, he’s made to look like an insensitive jerk simply because he has a schedule to abide by.

    The Arizona Environmentalists can be hostile to the unresponsive. A few days ago, one of the many recruiters approached me with the obnoxious question, and I politely said I had to get to my English class. This was true, but the environmentalist insulted my decision.

    “”Oh really? Well, that’s pretty bad.””

    Do environmentalists believe they’ll gain support by coaxing and punishing students into saving the planet? How can this particular environmentalist possibly think I’m going to respond well to disrespect? Is this any way to treat students?

    If you’re insecure about walking to class by yourself, worry not. The Arizona Environmentalists have been known to walk with students to their destination, regaling about environmental issues on the stroll. Their persistence is commendable, even if it’s pushy and occasionally inappropriate.

    If they’re passionate enough to creatively taunt people on campus, they can make an earthly change on their own. Instead of scaring uncomfortable students into signing a clipboard, the environmentalists would be better off working with those who care to make small changes at a time. Then, they wouldn’t waste recruitment time on uninterested college kids.

    I don’t know what category of controversial campus evangelist Brother Jed falls into, but it’s safe to say he stands alone as the most radical kind of recruiter on campus. In telling college students that they’re all devil children, whores and whoremongers, he’s crazy to think someone will step forward and surrender to his outdated beliefs. After speaking out against pre-marital kissing, he repeatedly spewed abusive obscenities at young girls and shouted at passersby, “”You’re walking to Hell.”” Though incomparable, Brother Jed is probably the most offensive and ineffective recruiter on the UA campus.

    Brother Jed, other campus evangelists and Arizona Environmentalists have different intentions and expectations of students, but their effects can be similar. They’re not changing the people who just don’t care. You can’t change people, you can only change the way you react to them. Smothering is a negative, useless way to connect with others.

    -ÿLaura Donovan is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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