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Soliciting on Campus: A Student’s Encounter

By Zainab Iqbal

Additional reporting by Adam Zaki

Published: May 10th, 2017

Monty Stewart, a Brooklyn College freshman, claimed that representatives from Primerica, an insurance and financial services company, were recruiting students on campus last Thursday. According to a source at the college, Primerica is not permitted to recruit on campus, and a warning was issued to Brooklyn College Public Safety shortly after The Excelsior’s inquiry on the matter.

“We have no direct knowledge of them having been on campus, other than second or third-hand info,” said Donald Wenz, the Chief of Public Safety. “Soliciting of any kind is prohibited on campus without approval of the vice president of Student Affairs. If they are found on campus, we will have them removed.”

Stewart had been walking past the Whitehead Breezeway when a woman wearing a suit and holding a clipboard approached him about a “job opportunity,” he said. 

“She said that her name was Mercedes, and that all I had to do to get the job was give my name and phone number and then she’d call me with more information about the position,” Stewart said. “She said nothing about working for a company called Primerica; I didn’t even get a business card.”

The following day, Stewart got a call from Mercedes H. Humphries, who he claims is the same woman he encountered on campus, telling him to “show up at 9 a.m. at an address in the Newkirk area of Brooklyn, and to dress business casual.”

To confirm, Stewart showed The Excelsior Humphries’ number from his cell phone’s call log. It matched with the number that The Excelsior called in order to inquire about Primerica’s presence on campus.

“In order for us to be on campus, we understand that we need permission or else we can get in trouble,” Humphries said over the phone. “We weren’t on campus. We were on the corner near the elementary school—in the area around the high school and middle school.”

After The Excelsior told her about Stewart’s encounter, Humphries emphasized that she herself had not been on campus.

“There might have been some new volunteers on the campus, but it was not me. But if the student came to my office to speak to me, then that is correct.” Humphries said. “Some of the volunteers are here for the first time and might have gotten confused.”

When Stewart showed up at Primerica’s office, he, along with other recruits, were shown a two-hour presentation. “When they started talking about wages, it become this odd Wolf of Wall Street-esque rhetoric,” he said. “We were given these numbers and charts that didn’t make sense. We were told that we would be helping, but also that we would be making a whole lot of money.”

After students were told they would get certified and licensed for free to sell insurance for the company, Humphries asked Stewart if he would be willing to pay a $142 background check fee. Stewart declined and left the office.

Although Stewart has claimed to have had a first-hand encounter with Primerica on campus, college administrators have not yet been able to confirm that Primerica has been recruiting without permission.

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