All these kids on campus

By Camille Rivero

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I’m sure many of you have seen what seems like hundreds of tours on campus this year and have started to loathe them. As a part of the Community Outreach and College Awareness Event Coordinator for Student Bridges, I help coordinate and lead some of these tours. Student Bridges is a student-run agency on campus working towards granting college access and student success. After overhearing several comments from fellow students, which can be summed up to how “obnoxious” tours are, I felt compelled to write this.

When students see these tours, blocking walkways and invading their space, they get annoyed. I had the same reactions until I learned and understood how important it is to bring students here to the University of Massachusetts campus.

For many UMass students, the prospect of attending college was likely never a question. It was likely always an option to go to college and simply became a matter of where to go. We often don’t acknowledge the privilege of higher education and the fact that this is not an option afforded to all. I am part of a larger collaborative effort to make it possible for students to attend college who may never have thought that to be possible.

This is the case for many of the students who come on the tours I organize. When they come to UMass, they love it.  Even for our tour guides and panelists, I think it’s a reminder of why they came here in the first place. The things we now take for granted like the food at the dining commons, especially the ice cream machines, amaze these middle and high school students. The 26 floors of the library are overwhelming yet intriguing and the amount of walking we do is astounding. There are so many things UMass has to offer, things we may have forgotten in our time here.

To say there are only negative reactions to tours is inaccurate. Some UMass students have really engaged with the students on our tours. Thank you to those who in a rush to class still give students high-fives, to student athletes who race middle school students for the scavenger hunt, and to those who struggle to remember the official UMass fight song and not the explicit one for the younger students. These interactions make me proud to be a UMass student. This is UMass spirit: students sharing their love for the University and their college experience with those around them.

I don’t expect that after reading this, people will be any less annoyed by tours. I get it; it can be inconvenient and frustrating. I am a student too and try as much as possible to be mindful of the spaces we, as a tour group, occupy. But next time you see a tour, before the frustration hits, I encourage students to think about why these middle school, high school, and adult education students are here. Share that Minuteman spirit. Wave, race a student or give a high-five because you’re a pretty cool kid just for going to college.

For me, just one “I want to come to UMass” from a student makes every tour worth it.

Camille Rivero is the Community Outreach and College Awareness Event Coordinator for Student Bridges. She can be reached at [email protected]