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Opinion

Spring summons ‘the pamphlet people’

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April 22, 2015

Just when I thought it was ending, it was beginning again. Yes, that’s right everyone, the pamphlet people were out last week.

And of course that’s not to say it is all bad. At least their obnoxious presence is a tell-tale sign of spring, because no one is going to hand me the New Testament in minus 20 wind chill. But why exactly do they come out and disrupt–I mean grace–college campuses around the country? Where do they come from? What are they trying to prove? These are all the questions in my head as I go on the hill, through a strange building, onto a bridge, and through a flower garden in order to avoid confronting one of them.

I have to admit, during my four years here at UW-River Falls, this year is one where I have not seen nearly as many pamphlet people as I have in the past. I’m not sure what this means; they may be cutting down on their hours. But I wouldn’t get my hopes up on that one, because they typically come to campus unannounced, jumping at you like some clown in a desolate parking lot.

The same thoughts run through my head when I am approached by the pamphlet people unexpectedly: I didn’t see you there, sir, and I am quite frankly a little creeped-out right now.

Most pamphlet people are really pretty harmless: usually they’re handing out disturbingly graphic brochures on animal welfare or they’re priests or ministers handing out the New Testament or some enlightening Christian literature, most likely muttering “I’ll pray for you” to all who deny a copy.

Some students feel pressured to take a copy just so they don’t make the pamphlet person feel bad, but in the event you have not found alternate pamphlet people-free routes to class, it is perfectly fine not to accept their pamphlets, especially if you don’t agree with their views and plan to dispose of the pamphlet anyway. As many upperclassmen may remember, the result could be much worse.

Two years ago, in the fall of 2012, a group of delightful individuals, likely sent either by hell or the Westboro Baptist Church, came to the UWRF campus to tell a passerby that they were going to hell. I, a sophomore at the time, was lucky enough not to encounter this group, so I’m luckily not going to hell.

But they found something wrong with everyone they saw walk by, whether a girl’s shorts were too short or a woman was in fact a woman. They weren’t here to offer pamphlets or to promote any issue they feel strongly about. They were here to simply tell us to stop being here. And that, my friends, is why scenic routes to class exist.

Even though the pamphlet people are often harmless, I think we can all agree that they’re pretty obnoxious. No one wants to be interrupted on their way to class, just like no one wants to be chased by a clown in a desolate parking lot. Most pamphlets being handed out will just be thrown out anyway, so why bother handing them out in the first place? I’m not sure why colleges and universities allow these people to invite themselves to campus, especially when some are shouting at us to go to hell.

Who knows if I will ever find out who is allowing this and what it is supposed to accomplish; but until then, if you take a right on Cascade Avenue, go all the way through about five neighborhoods, take a left on Cascade Avenue and go straight, that should get you to class just fine. You didn’t finish your project, but at least you avoided the pamphlet people, you stallion.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.