Multimodal Interactions Between Solicitors and Students on Bruinwalk

Reina, Pierce, Emily, Whitney, Nick

As the central thoroughfare on campus, Bruin Walk is a heavily trafficked walkway that is an important center of student life and interaction. Known as a place where student organizations hand out fliers about their club and fundraise, it is a site of frequent, multimodal communication between students passing by (“students”) and students marketing their clubs (“solicitors”). As students navigate solicitors from all directions who are trying to persuade them to accept their flier or buy a pastry, they must utilize different communicative strategies when indexing their acceptance or rejection of solicitors, considering norms of politeness in the unique communicative environment of Bruin Walk. Using participant observation, surveys, and interviews, this research focused on how students communicate their rejection or acceptance of solicitors in the context of politeness. We found that students overwhelmingly use non-verbal communication to signify their rejection of solicitors. Furthermore, we found that because of the unique communicative environment of Bruin Walk, students operate within altered norms of politeness. Students express their rejection in ways that normally would be considered rude, but are socially acceptable on Bruin Walk.

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