Ban credit card solicitors from SIUC

By Gus Bode

If you can’t pay for your first car in full, you need to go see Mom and Dad because you will need a co-signer. This holds true for a cell phone and sometimes even a lease. On the other hand, if you want a new stereo, the latest fashions or even books for class, all you need to do is walk across campus, fess up some personal information and sign on the dotted line.

Like college campuses across the country, SIUC is a haven for credit card solicitors. And, according to the SIUC administration, credit card solicitation is an acceptable fundraiser.

We don’t think so.

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Instead, Registered Student Organizations should find other ways to advance their programs besides making money by potentially harming students and their credit.

But this problem does not start with the Registered Student Organizations that get paid for each student who applies.

Instead, the matter begins with the companies that solicit students and students are one of the most sought after target of banks issuing credit cards. That is a given. Students don’t tend to have high paying jobs – yet – but we do have expensive taste and we tend to live beyond our means. After all, few students make a wage high enough to even cover tuition and room and board, much less clothes.

Nevertheless, living beyond our means now often starts a harmful trend. The University may not be able to avoid the increasing costs of educating students or even housing them, but the University can protect students – at least while they are on campus – from collecting more debt through credit cards.

We know credit cards can help build credit.

But they also help destroy it.

Students must be aware that signing up for a credit card means more than a free T-shirt or a 10-percent discount at the mall. Most students don’t take the time to read the disclaimers on the applications. Most solicitors probably don’t want us to know how much the interest rate is or what getting declined will do to our credit.

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We might not even know until an application for a home loan is denied. However, the University cannot be blamed for students’ bad credit because of credit card bills the student ran up.

By the time students are at the university level, they are adults and should be able to make educated financial decisions. But, that doesn’t often happen unless the students are educated on such matters.

Although many high schools and some Student Orientation and Advisement Registration leaders warn students about credit cards, knowledge must start at home. Parents need to educate their children – even their adult children – about the positive and negatives of credit cards.

Credit cards are essential in emergencies and foreign travel, among other things. But students must be aware that credit cards should not serve as play money. Instead, they are loans that come with an obligation to repay.

University administration says students want to be treated as adults and thus should not be protected from solicitation.

We are not protected from solicitation. It is everywhere we go, including in our mail, as companies simply have to file a Freedom of Information Act to get a list of our names and addresses from the University.

Still, we don’t need to deal with high-pressured solicitation at school. Thus credit card solicitors should be banned from this campus, as it has been done at numerous campuses around the country. Some states, like California, have even made strides to ban solicitation on college campuses altogether.

Such a ban would not prevent RSOs from fundraising. Instead, they may have to work just a little harder and be a bit more creative when looking for ways to make money. Even in a suffering economy, RSOs can have successful fundraisers without the involvement on credit cards. In fact, the Daily Egyptian is always looking for RSOs to stuff the paper with inserts.

Students, professors and books belong at SIUC, not pushy sales people trying to make a buck on our naivet.

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