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Ring Road of UC Irvine. This pathway is arguably the busiest pedestrian thoroughfare at UCI, connecting all of the main campus with its circular route. And as anyone who spends enough time on campus knows, it is also the prime location for rallies, marches, protests, rush recruitments and the promulgation of campus-based activities here at this institution.
At UCI, for example, we have no shortages of milk tea boba. The peddling of these tapioca-based beverages on Ring Road, along with the prominent sales of paper-plated stacks of Asiatic meats, often brings to mind the struggles of clubs and organizations on campus seeking additional funding and publicity for their events. And the prominence of flyer distribution makes the likelihood of being handed a pamphlet higher than that of seeing a friend’s face on campus.
Nevertheless, we all have at some point in our lives, walked by and ignored the sales pitch, refused the flyers or even set our eyes down to our shoes as we walked, hoping no one would accost us with unwanted requests. To some extent, it is understandable; after all, we are students with busy schedules and being late to class or a meeting is never a good thing.
But when we do have time, when all we are doing is going home or heading toward Panda Express for lunch, have we ever thought that we could spare a few minutes to just simply know why that person is spending a good hour or two of his day to stand there and hand out those flyers? And, for all of the controversial rhetoric, do we ever stop and glance, perhaps only for a few minutes, at the Apartheid Week wall or the abortion display that are on campus every year?
Granted, often the flyers or the displays revolve around something we might deem as unimportant. A party invitation, while perhaps enjoyable, might not do much for campus activism, but it does grant us a little fun and maybe a modicum of school spirit. Then, there are times when we don’t agree with what the flyer has to offer. But how often have we refused flyers for guest speakers, for discourses, marches and debates held by organizations like the Student Health Center, the student government or even campus group performances, simply because we couldn’t be bothered?
We often, as educated youths with bright futures, call on our fellow peers to seek awareness and understanding of the world or to help improve our campus and our world by raising the pride, prospect and optimism of our fellow peers. But these opportunities don’t always simply come in the classroom or within the textbooks. On Ring Road, these fundraisers and program invitations are there because organizations need additional money that they cannot find elsewhere, need people to know about what they are doing because a Facebook group is not enough. Organizations want people to show up and partake of what they have to offer and there is rarely ever a cost for many of these events. But too many students refuse, even when they are offered an abundance of incentives.
Have we, as students, ever considered how infuriating it might be to see a fellow student walk by a boothing club with a Subway sandwich that he or she bought for five dollars and some odd cents, when that same club asks only for three dollars for a stack of spam masubi? Sure, it might or might not taste as good or one might not be in the mood for that particular dish, but that five dollars went to a huge corporate franchise, whereas that club might be looking to scrounge up any penny it can find to host a luncheon, with guest speakers and catered food, for students to attend (sometimes for free).
Ultimately, this boils down to an interaction similar to this: Would you like a free pen? Do you want a free shirt? Would you like to know more and be more educated about certain issues my organization is looking to bring attention to?
The typical response: No. And why not, you might ask? “Well, because I have no time; and my time is more valuable than your time. And what you are advocating will not get me a better grade on my next exam or improve my resume. Also, because I have no interest, whatsoever, in what you want or what you have to say.”
This collective mentality should be challenged. It is not conducive to awareness and rationality, nor is it to creativity and empathy. The organizations and clubs run by our fellow students offer so much, and ask for so little (if they ask for anything at all). Students put time into their organizations out of love and care for what they represent and for the views that they hold. Perhaps we might not agree with everything that every organization says, but those individuals took the time to say it; they overcame their shyness to approach us and offer us something. It’s not only about what they can do for us; we can do something for them too. It can be as simple as carrying a few dollars around, or at least stop, take a flyer, and read it before discarding it. Let’s give them something back, shall we?

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