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How to semi-respectfully avoid the on-campus Mormons

Keep your headphones on, pal

Just yesterday my brisk walk home was interrupted by an unfamiliar face, enthusiastically enquiring "hello, how are you?"

Worried that the interrogator may be someone I had met in a drunken state the previous night, I quickly responded "I’m great, how are you?", pretending I knew who they were.

It was at that moment I noticed the polished name tag, pristine suit and impeccably combed hair. This was no drunken fresher from the night before. This was a Mormon.

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This has no doubt been experienced by many of us students as we rush about campus and I for one know that the heat of the moment can make it difficult to know how to respectfully avoid conversation.

As such, here are some tips and tricks which will help you escape the endless discussions and the religious imprisonment that begins with the question: "How much do you know about Mormonism?" – all whilst remaining polite and dignified.

Remember that Mormon missionaries are typically between the ages 18 and 21

They've literally just left school, and though their immaculate appearance may suggest otherwise, your university education has provided you with greater arsenal for debate. Challenge them. The conversation will no doubt end more abruptly than if you were to simply stand there nodding.

Claim that you have a meeting with a missionary coming up

Mormons are encouraged to keep conversation on the street to a minimum and instead plan appointments with the public – this way they can reach a wider audience in a smaller amount of time.

Suggesting that you already have an appointment set up will no doubt move them on to the next helpless student and allow you to reach the sanctity of your accommodation, where you can spend the next hour briefly consider cooking something from The Hungry Student Cookbook before resorting to a pot noodles or a microwaved frozen pizza (trust me, it's a thing).

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Say that you’re on your way to get coffee and invite them to come

Though this may seem a counterintuitive approach to avoiding the missionaries, it is in fact tactful. Mormons cannot have caffeinated drinks and so this gesture will give you the appearance of a kind individual, even though there is no way that the believers will ever accept such an offer.

Smile, provide some words of encouragement and continue on your way

Easier said than done, I know.

Do not give them your number

This isn't exactly a tip to avoid conversation but it is nonetheless crucial that this is known. Handing over your number will provide the believers with a means of constant – and I mean constant – contact.

It'll mean that you experience borderline Christian harassment for the next six months of your university life. I repeat, DO NOT give them your number.

So, as tempting as it may seem to stick your earphones in, put your head down, and avoid any possible eye contact with the Mormons, there are many other, more polite, ways of avoiding the preachers.

These tips are specifically for those who notice the small blue book before it's too late and so need a simple line that quickly removes them from conversation with the believers. I hope they give you a means of escape whilst allowing you to remain a semi-respectable university student.