Predatory recruiting is harmful

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Predatory recruiting is harmful

Opinion columnist Brenna Wolfe discusses the difference between predatory and ethical recruitment tactics used by student organizations.

Opinion columnist Brenna Wolfe discusses the difference between predatory and ethical recruitment tactics used by student organizations.

PEXELS

Opinion columnist Brenna Wolfe discusses the difference between predatory and ethical recruitment tactics used by student organizations.

PEXELS

PEXELS

Opinion columnist Brenna Wolfe discusses the difference between predatory and ethical recruitment tactics used by student organizations.

BRENNA WOLFE, Opinion Columnist

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As the fall semester opens and students are returning to campus, the season of student organization recruitment begins.

This can be a fun time where new students can explore their interests and meet new people. It’s the time of year where we can attend many meetings without being tied down.

Students are looking for fun, laughter and new friends.

This is especially true for freshman and transfer students. They are new to our campus and often far away from home. Many don’t know any other students. For these reasons, student organization recruitment is a special process for new students; they are looking for a home away from home. They need friends, and student organizations provide an outlet.

Unfortunately, that also makes new students the most vulnerable to predatory recruitment tactics.

During this time of the year, I have been thinking a lot about predatory recruitment and how to have ethical recruitment.

I want to make it clear that I do not have the answers to these questions, and I am not sure what the best recruitment tactics are. I want to open a dialogue on our campus and maybe reach a new standard for recruitment.

First, what is predatory recruitment? In my mind, this looks like cornering and pressuring students to join an organization. Over the years, I have heard stories of predatory recruitment, and the following are true examples that have happened on our campus:

• An organization knocking on doors in the dorms to promote their group (which is against policy).

• An organization coordinating mass friend requests to students that have not shown interest in the group.

• An organization systematically promoting the organization through direct messages.

• An organization not being clear about financial expenses or gains.

• An organization sitting next to individuals at tables in the library or union and promoting their organization.

• An organization advertising an event with free food and fun, but not advertising who is holding the event.

• An organization not advertising their mission and values until members have committed.

What all these examples have in common are one, cornering and two, lack of transparency. I believe this is what makes up the core of predatory recruitment.

When students do not have a way to get out of the situation, that is cornering and it is predatory. Similarly, when students do not have all the information on the organization, that is manipulation and it is predatory.

Predatory recruitment tactics are happening on our campus. Some organizations are using these tactics systematically, year after year.

Which brings me to asking: how do we have ethical recruitment on our campus?

Recruitment tactics can easily go from friendly to predatory, and where can we find that line? When does a friendly approach become pressuring a student? When do tabling tactics go too far? I don’t really have the answers.

Much of ethical recruitment is reading body language. Does the student avoid eye contact and walk quicker? Or is the student slowing down and responding to you? Recruitment is a lot of gray area, and body language is important to consider.

After much thought while writing this piece, I have come to a personal conclusion that ethical recruitment is transparent, allows students to have an exit, and there is identification of the organization. This is what I plan to follow when I am tabling during the recruitment season.

For other student organizations, I urge you to reflect on your recruitment techniques. Do you have some sort of identifier with you, like a tri-fold board, tablecloth, tent, etc.? Are all your members clear on how to approach new students? Do you have a friendly approach? Is there a clear exit for students to avoid you?  Are you reading the body language of students?

We all want students to feel safe on our campus, and ethical recruitment is one way to make sure that everyone enjoys their time at UNI. The best kind of recruitment is when students join organizations understanding and loving every aspect of the group.

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