You walk out the south exit of the CoHo after your second coffee of the day. You’ve had two classes, a bagel and an argument with your TA, and it’s only 11:30. It’s at this point when you realize the firestorm of youthful advocacy that is about to be unleashed upon you.
Every Monday through Friday student groups, as well as other various assemblages, line the north quad flanked with posters, brochures and messages, all in the hopes of getting you to listen, buy, join, donate, walk, read or join a mailing list for their group.
Many students voice complaints about the harassment that comes with walking through the tabling area. Even Rachel Goldstein, a senior international relations major who has tabled in the past, finds herself annoyed with the daily ritual.
“While I appreciate student activism, it seems that tabling has become a tired approach. Student-led organizations should target relevant courses and network with other campus groups in order to garner support and participation,” Goldstein said.
“As a fellow student who has tabled in the past for various organizations, I can empathize with groups’ frustration with a seemingly apathetic student body,” she added. “However, students do respond to class announcements and Facebook events, rather than inconvenient run-ins on the MU patio.”
On a given day you may come across Madeline Lindheimer and Martha Gipe who sit patiently, waiting for a student to come express interest in their free literature. As part of the Davis congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lindheimer and Gipe have been tabling along with other members of their congregation for 30 years. Lindheimer and Gipe both agree that a one-on-one conversation is more effective than online advertising.
“Our main goal is to help people understand the bible,” Gipe said. “Our love of people and love of God is what motivates us [to table].”
But what about those people who aren’t so passive as to wait for students to approach them?
CalPIRG is widely known around campus, and their members are never shy about getting their message across. Levi Menovske, chapter chair for UC Davis CalPIRG and ASUCD senator, explained that because CalPIRG has such a broad span of projects, it is easy to find students who feel passionate about an issue and are willing to take tabling to the next level.
There are many theories on the most successful way to table and get your message across. Tablers use flashy signs, giveaways, free food and costumes to attract passing students. Menovske however, uses a more simple approach.
“The most useful tip or strategy for people that want to become a good tabler is to be confident and enthusiastic,” Menovske said. “The person you stop to talk to [is] only going be as enthusiastic as you are. It is also really important to be educated in what you are talking about, if you don’t have some idea of the subject then people will not want to talk to you.”
Menovske added that CalPIRG has a skilled professional staff and board members who train volunteers and interns so that none of their members are unprepared to answer when students challenge their stance outside of the library.
Plugging a group, club or organization may not seem like the ideal way to spend a sunny spring quarter, but Menovske insists that if a student is passionate about his or her topic tabling will be a positive experience.
“Personally, I find tablers really annoying,” said Katie Webb, a first-year exercise biology major. “I’d be way too embarrassed to stand out there myself, getting turned down from most people that walk by.”
Clearly, tabling isn’t for everyone but if you have an event or message you want to get across to the campus, Menovske insists that face-to-face interaction is the best way.
“I never personally feel embarrassed talking to random people,” Menovske said. “The reason for this is because I have educated myself about the organization and the issue I am tabling for. The only reason to ever be embarrassed is if you don’t know what to say.”
ANDY VERDERSOA can be reached at email@example.com.