Students hassled by unwelcome solicitors

Student concerns have sparked heightened security around the SFU campuses

Photo courtesy of SFU Student Central

There has been a recent spike in occurrences where students are being approached on campus and asked to donate money to different charitable causes.

On the SFU2016 Facebook page, which is dedicated to helping first-year students to connect with one another, there have been multiple posts where students describe being approached and asked to donate, and when students politely decline or provide any kind of reasoning, those that are soliciting the donations continue to push the issue. Sometimes this results in harsh words being exchanged.

Victoria Lee is one of the many students who have reported being asked for donations. In a statement to The Peak, Lee says that she was at the SFU Surrey campus with her friend on their way to the library when she was stopped by a man, described as a small Filipino man in his mid-20s, who was asking for donations for his charity. Despite politely declining, the man became angry, calling her friend (who is also Filipino) “white washed and unwilling to help [his] kind” and calling Lee “spoiled and ungrateful.”

Frank Wu, another student, witnessed such an incident when he saw a student withdrawing money from an ATM to satisfy the solicitor’s request. Having been approached by these solicitors before and after hearing about how they could be potential fraudsters, Wu decided to inform the student of this.

“The lady [. . .] was quite displeased with my interaction with the student and attempted to hit me with her scarf,” Wu said in a statement to The Peak. After calling campus security and informing them of the lady’s location, it took 10 minutes until security did show up. “I was upset that the school did not seem […] to prevent situations like this from happening [. . .] I hope [SFU] will continue to put in more effort to protect the students from being victims of fraudulent activities.”

Steven MacLean, senior director of campus safety and security services, told The Peak that “SFU campus security is aware of reports of people soliciting students for donations, at times aggressively so,” and that “[t]his type of solicitation at any SFU campus is not authorized.”

Despite the fact that only a few formal complaints have been received and the fact that campus security officers have not yet physically encountered the people who are engaging in this activity, MacLean maintains that campus security “is taking proactive measures by heightening [their] profile in high-volume areas, particularly during meal hours and between classes.”

As mentioned in numerous posts via social media, SFU Student Central further emphasized the need for students to contact campus security at 778-782-3100 if they are approached by these people. Then they can provide campus security personnel with details of the incident as well as a description of the person(s) that are soliciting for donations. At the same time, students are reminded to remain vigilant of their surroundings as well as aware that this is not permitted on campus grounds.

SFU university communications was contacted with a request for statement, but The Peak received no comment by publication time.