The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Solicitation remains a growing problem

It can begin with the approach of an amiable youth toward agroup of unsuspecting students. What may result, however, is a lossof money, identity and privacy.

Solicitation has become a growing problem on college campusesacross the nation, and university police officials are crackingdown. “Usually the magazine solicitors frequent our campus atthe beginning of the school year,” said SMU Police Chief MikeSnellgrove. “Using their youth and charm, they get into theresidence halls.”

Judging from recent incidents on campus, this year has been nodifferent. Last week, two solicitors were discovered in the SouthQuad, thanks in part to quick thinking from some first-yearresidents.

“Alert students called the police department about twowomen who were attempting to sell magazine subscriptions insideMcElvaney Hall,” Snellgrove said.

Both women were found on the second floor, and both had criminalrecords.

“One of the women had been arrested for theft, burglaryand assault, [and] the other had over 25 traffic violations and waspossibly a prostitute,” Snellgrove said.

According to Snellgrove, a deceptive background of fabricationis often created in order to mislead students.

“Typically, they say they are competing for trips orpoints toward some sort of prize,” he said.

With these falsehoods, solicitors are sometimes able to talkstudents into magazine subscriptions, allowing them to acquirepersonal information such as full names, addresses or socialsecurity numbers.

While last week’s confrontation was easily halted, theproblem is not exclusive to SMU.

Similar incidents have occurred in recent years at ColoradoState University, Kansas State University, the University of NorthCarolina at Charlotte and the University of Texas at Arlington.

While most university solicitors, such as the ones at SMU, arereprimanded with a swift kick off campus, consequences for some canbe far more severe.

According to a 2003 story posted on, aconglomeration of “telemarketers charged with misrepresentingthe costs and conditions of packages of magazine subscriptions andrefusing to honor cancellation and refund requests agreed to settlecharges that they violated federal law.”

The charges, directed toward companies in New York and Atlanta,totaled over $1.1 million.

No matter the end result, solicitation is not permitted atSMU.

According to section 3.24(a) of the 2004-2005 Student Handbook,”commercial activity is defined as any sale or offer of salefor the purpose of securing a profit for the benefit of anindividual or group. Such activities will … beprohibited.”

Section 3.24(c) of the handbook makes a specific and blatantreference to last week’s event: “No solicitation isallowed in the residence halls.”

Snellgrove explained that, this semester alone, seven criminaltrespass warnings have been issued to violators of these rules.

Campus safety officials hope that word of mouth will act as themost productive weapon against unauthorized solicitors.

“The most active measure [against future incidents] isthrough crime prevention briefings where we warn about thesepeople,” Snellgrove said.

“Bottom line [is], magazine solicitors, or anyone whoapproaches you on campus and asks personal information or wants youto buy something, are probably doing it without the approval of theadministration.”

Anyone with information regarding illegal or suspicious personson campus is urged to contact the SMU Police Department at (214)768-3388.

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