Many students annoyed by practices of on-campus petitioners

Students report feeling uncomfortable with petitioners’ behavior.


Gillian Manning

Petitioner stops a student on Diversity Way near the Breezeway.

Rayna Cohen, Staff Writer

Petitioners have gathered throughout the Breezeway and other parts of the Boca Raton campus in hopes of getting signatures, and students have strong opinions about their practices.

Their position in the Breezeway has been described by students as being an inconvenience while trying to get to class.

“You can’t go down the breezeway without them interrupting you, I’ve had times I’m nearly late to class because they’ll like corner you and won’t let you walk away,” said junior physics major Hannah Tuttle. 

While FAU is a public campus, some students believe there should be systems put in place to cut down on the presence of petitioners. Jason Filler Jr., a freshman biology major, said he thinks the school should work with the petitioners to give them certain days, times, and areas in which they can ask for signatures. He doesn’t think they should be allowed in buildings.

According to FAU’s policy on campus free speech, organizations can exercise their right to free speech as long as they don’t use “grounds immediately adjacent to University buildings where such use could impair entrance to or exit from the building or interfere with activities within the building.”

These groups also “shall not engage in physically abusive or threatening conduct towards any person.”

However, pre-medicine senior Levi Robles takes a different approach in saying that they shouldn’t be allowed on campus. 

“I understand that FAU is a public campus, but this is getting out of hand and bordering on solicitation,” they said. 

The petitioners say they’re collecting signatures in support of the Seminole Tribe Compact, which according to their website, is a deal between Florida and the Seminole Tribe aiming to legalize sports betting that is guaranteed to bring in $2.5 billion in the first five years.

Common petition.

However, most of the students don’t know what they’re signing a petition for. 

“They don’t say like who they’re representing or what organization they’re from,” said Jimmy Bradshaw, who’s pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in biology for the pre-health professions. 

Tuttle said that no one really knows what they’re signing because half the time they won’t tell students what it is and that the petitioners encouraging people to sign even though they don’t know what they mean or actually do feels deceptive. 

Sophomore biology major Antonia Olivares said petitioners told her that she is signing to help allocate money for education, but that’s not what she sees on the petition. They also can’t give a proper legal description when she asks for one.

She also said that the petitioners do not carry any documents that pertain to their cause. 

Students, especially those presenting as female, have also experienced verbal harassment and inappropriate comments for refusing to sign the petition. Olivares described how the petitioners will continue to follow her or get angry if she doesn’t sign. 

“They’ve asked for my Instagram and phone number as well which is inappropriate,” she said.

Other students believe the petitioners are crossing the line in terms of being aggressive in coming up with ways to pressure them into signing, as well as not respecting boundaries. 

“I’ve had people almost guilt trip me. I had a man tell me that like signing his petition would feed his pets or something,” Tuttle said.

Bradshaw described an instance where a petitioner who he previously said no to approached him while eating dinner at the food court. He asked him to sign again and made a remark before he left.  

“I’m too old to be feeling like I’m being bullied by a petitioner,” he said.

Robles also felt uncomfortable with the petitioner’s lack of boundaries. They describe how petitioners would block their path, or reach out to touch them.

“I have C-PTSD and autism, so my comfort with random people or strangers touching me is almost nonexistent,” they said.

This is not only happening on FAU’s campus. Student newspapers for the University of Florida and Florida International University also reported that petitioners have bothered students.


Rayna Cohen is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]