Student voices for sale

Torrey Spoerer

Throughout the City College campus, bulletin boards originally set up for posting announcements and bulletins approved by the Dean of Student Affairs are now almost completely covered with vague advertisements reading “Activist work for students! Earn up to $15 per hour!”

Also around every corner of the campus lurks strangers with clipboards asking busy students “Are you registered to vote?” followed by pressuring, guilt-toned claims that if the student care about the political topic at hand, then they will immediately sign the petition without even bothering to go home and do their research first.

These abrasively verbal petition circulators are actually company-hired independent contractors who are each paid based on the total number of signatures they’ve individually collected on the job.

According to FindLaw.com, Only 7 out of fifty States have outlawed the pay-per-signature industry commonly seen every day on City campus.

California is especially notorious for only bearing very few vague laws and codes regulating the circulators conducted methods of convincing people to sign petitions.

Often times, circulators can – and do – tell distorted white lies about the purposes and goals of the petition being circulated, often fueled by their employer’s promises to pay the circulators more based on how many signatures they sell.

Without legal boundaries, a large amount of accountability gets thrown out the window, defeating the petition campaign’s original intentions of transparency and accurate representation of the community at hand.

On Aug. 22, San Diego Free Press shared State Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña’s story about her recent encounter with one of many petition gatherers in a Sprouts parking lot in Clairemont.

“He started out by asking if I wanted to help raise the minimum wage,” Saldaña explained. “I told him that had already been done by the city Council. He countered that the mayor had vetoed their action. I replied that they had overridden the veto a few days ago. Then he told me the purpose of the petition is to keep the Council from ‘running roughshod’ over voters. This is according to man who also admitted he is not from San Diego.”

In fact, according to California Code Chapter 2 Section 102, any “person who is a voter or who is qualified to register to vote in this state” is legally allowed to “circulate an initiative, referendum petition or recall petition in accordance with this code.”

These circulators infiltrating San Diego students’ safe spaces don’t even have to be residents of San Diego County; they can be from any corner of California that is not remotely even affected by the issue-at-hand affecting San Diegans.

Therefore, it’s arguable that the voices of San Diegans that sign petitions are getting manipulated by select few individuals with a goal in mind and an army of out-of-county hired circulators who could possibly not even care about the issue discussed yet will do and say anything for a price.

Even if California continues to allow the pay-per-signature industry to continue thriving, the last kind of places it should ever be allowed to tread are our community safe spaces and public educational centers, including City College.