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Be Vigilant of South Loop Sidewalk Interviews, Surveys, Questionnaires

The streets of downtown Chicago are filled with endless crowds of people walking to and from place to place, whether it’s college students, professors, local residents or employees. The last thing most people expect throughout their day or even have time for is being stopped by a random stranger asking for a moment of their time.

“I see it happen all the time,” says Marvin Evans, 21, of Chicago. “Mainly on State Street and Michigan Avenue because that’s where the dorms are, where you have the majority of students and also where you have businesses and rich people.”

Companies and businesses often have representatives standing outside their buildings with attempts to bring in more customers and attract new faces, but they are not always successful.

“Yesterday somebody from Planned Parenthood asked me to sign up,” says Alex Ashley, 20, of Chicago. “But I just ignored them.”

Students walking to and from classes, especially in between classes, are generally in a hurry, and it’s only human nature to not stop and talk to these people. Who wants to stop and talk to a complete stranger about something business related you know nothing about?

“I get stopped every time I walk down the street, and I walk right past them,” Ashley says. “I see business people the most because they are so persistent.”

The sidewalks and street corners of the South Loop are filled with businesses trying to promote themselves and their products, and they also overflow with homeless men and women.

“Last Tuesday a homeless bum asked me for money and a cigarette,” Evans says. “He kept saying please and giving me a speech about why he was homeless and how he needed money. I told him I had no cash on me.”

Many college professors frequently have their students stroll the streets of Michigan Avenue, State Street and Wabash Avenue searching for people to fill out surveys for classes and conduct interviews for projects and papers.

It must be difficult for students who have to stop pedestrians in their tracks, ask for a moment of their time and then bombard them with tons of questions. Nerves can kick in, and most people aren’t willing to cooperate. They aren’t going to get many surveys filled out or interviews completed.

“People tend not to care,” says Emmanuel Liberty, 19, of Chicago. “I usually put my iPod on because I just don’t want to be bothered when I’m walking. It makes me feel uncomfortable when I get badgered with information.”

However, there are countless ways to avoid interviews and awkward conversations with strangers because not everyone wants to receive unnecessary information and pointless flyers.
“I pretend I’m too busy to do a survey,” Evans says. “I always use my phone as an excuse. I don’t have time to fill out surveys, especially outside. Usually I’m on a mission when I’m walking. I’m either going to class, coming from class or on my way to do something more interesting than fill out a survey.”
The last thing people expect to experience in their day is being stopped by a random stranger asking for spare change yet alone spare time, whether it is a homeless person, student or business person. Some don’t have the time, some are in a rush to get to class or work and some just don’t care.
“No matter what, it’s going to happen,” Liberty says. “Nobody likes it when someone begs all the time, if it’s for money or to fill out a survey. You can’t let it affect you.”
Jackson is a senior magazine journalism major at Columbia College Chicago, class of 2011. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Jackson transferred to Columbia during his sophomore year and considers Chicago to be second home. In addition to being a Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Columbia, Jackson also works as the copy chief for The Columbia Chronicle, Columbia's student-run newspaper, and at Echo, Columbia's student-run magazine, as the fact checking/copy chief and online editor. Jackson especially loves writing about the LGBTQ community and hopes to make it one of his specialities sometime in the future. While being a big believer in karma, Jackson always tries to surround himself with positive energy and positive people. A few of Jackson's favorite things: RuPaul's Drag Race, Family Guy, lemon-flavored Arizona iced tea and Chipotle.
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