Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The trouble with tour groups

They shuffle in a mass at an excruciatingly slow pace

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Isobel McCue, Collegian Columnist

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Spring is in the air. The birds are chirping, the darties are starting and the campus is suddenly filled with an influx of prospective students who want to tour the University of Massachusetts. There’s no missing them, for they come only in large packs, all huddling together with bored looks on their faces and holding their shiny red new folders. They are constantly in the way, taking pictures and staring blankly at poorly-designed maps of the campus. They are heavily concentrated in the Student Union, the Campus Center, the Integrative Learning Center and of course, the dining halls.

When I travel in between my morning classes I am sure I will be a few minutes late now, to account for the incredible foot traffic in the ILC; herds crowding the entire stairwell, bewildered students attempting to squeeze in on any side, with little luck. And anyone who has ever experienced a tour group on a college campus knows that this group of people has a unique characteristic: the lack of the ability to walk properly. They shuffle in a large mass at an excruciatingly slow pace, bumping into each other and into students without regard. They are often looking up or around the room and not where they are walking, resulting in many accidents. While on my way to class last week, I was infuriated to find my delicate blend of steeping hot herbal tea all over the front of my sweater, plowed through by a tour attendee, who didn’t even notice that he had soiled my shirt and ruined my zen for the rest of the day.

My friends and I went to get dinner last week and we were pleasantly surprised to find a mob crowding the dining commons. Prospective students and their parents took up most of the tables at Berkshire Dining Commons, preventing most students from finding seats and getting food due to the incredibly long lines. After 25 minutes, when we were finally able to sit down, it was very difficult to even get food. Some lines were just too long to wait in after we had already wasted nearly half an hour to look for a seat. Navigating Berk in general is a challenge, and it’s even worse having to wait for people to move out of the way who don’t know the flow or general order of the D.C. and being patient for someone saying “Oh Becky look, they have SMOOTHIES!” to move out of the way of the glasses.

Not only are the groups a travel hindrance, but their presence often provokes what seems to be uncontrollable behavior from current students. As the groups walk by, students will often shout at them and make strange gestures in their direction. I have yet to encounter one group without hearing some overexcited frat boy yell “Don’t come here” or “Zoooo.” I’m sure this isn’t the most meaningful way for the prospective students to see campus life. It is also incredibly distracting and annoying to listen to the noise that comes along with the groups, both from the incoming students and the current self-control deficient ones.

Not everyone is a chronic procrastinator like me. I was too lazy to drive out to campus to ever see it before coming here, committing to UMass at 11:58 p.m. on April 30 last year. The college decision process is one of the most impactful choices young adults can make, determining their financial, academic and social future. Most students want to see the campus before they give their hopes, dreams and nonexistent $28,000 a year to the school, which is an entirely reasonable and logical decision. But what about the students who already pay huge sums of money each year to attend the University?

There is little regard given by the parents of prospective students as well as the prospective students themselves for the life and activities that goes on across campus. When you come to tour a school, you must be aware that you are entering into an environment where people live and work; you are a guest. Please be considerate to those who live and work there.

I am amazed by the scheduling of it all, the timing of the groups interfering directly with major meals and the busiest hours of the day for classes. The main problem is that the priority here is clearly being given to the prospective students and their families, rather than the students who currently pay the University to go here and who call UMass home. Some careful thought must be given to revise some of the policies and practices of giving tours across campus. My tea-stained sweater thanks you.

Isobel McCue is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]


3 Responses to “The trouble with tour groups”

  1. john aimo on April 20th, 2018 2:26 pm

    was infuriated to find my delicate blend of steeping hot herbal tea all over the front of my sweater.

    My tea-stained sweater thanks you.

    I love this op ed piece, it’s hilarious.

    I would discourage anyone from attending here at least if they have standards, the campus is a total garbage pit, construction and trash everywhere, it’s extremely crowded and compact. It’s a daily eyesore. Whoever is in design of infrastructure or planning at UMass suffers from low intelligence.

    The college is over priced, and you don’t receive an education from your courses, it’s more like indoctrination. The student body is average to below average. UMass is basically a glorified community college.

    There are countless better, more affordable and higher ranking universities students can attend.

  2. Joe on April 25th, 2018 11:50 am

    Let’s break down this hysterically sheltered op-ed piece point-by-point:

    1) I’m sorry that the month of April seems so insurmountably difficult for you. Having to deal with slightly more crowded dining halls and having to leave for class 5 whole minutes earlier must really take a lot out of you. How *dare* prospective students, who are preparing to spend a minimum of $120,000 over four years are coming to campus and seeing what their money will get them. If a couple large groups of students in the month of April is enough for you to assert that the current students of UMass are being marginalized in some way, then you have low qualifications for what being marginalized. Also, assuming that these prospective students are mannerless fiends is completely unfounded. I’ve bumped into a few of these students, and not once have I been snuffed at like you describe. I’m sure many others have had the same experience as me.

    2) Yeah, the prospects don’t know the flow of the dining hall. It’s a lot to take in at first. Did you know exactly how to navigate the dining halls your first time in them? Did you not stop and look in amazement at some of the great options that are available? ESPECIALLY as a prospective student, they can’t help but be amazed that all college dining isn’t the mediocrely-presented shit that Sodexo and Chartwells will meekly offer you at other, more expensive schools. Also, keep in mind that these people aren’t coming in and freeloading, eating all the food on your dollar; they have to pay to get in during their tour, so they have just as much of a right to be there as you. Here, it seems like your issue isn’t with tours, but with people who haven’t been to a dining hall before, in which case your expecations are unrealistic.

    3) Talking about how you haven’t encountered one tour where a “frat boy” hasn’t yelled those things shows two things- You’ve been near one or two tours maximum, and you are extremely out of touch with Greek Life at UMass. Not everyone who jeers at a crowd is some stereotypical fraternity brother, but could also be a student who’s in the mood to screw around, or a student who doesn’t like UMass and doesn’t want others to have his bad experience. Do I agree? No. Should he be allowed to share his not-perfect experience? Sure. Keep in mind, only 8% of students at UMass are in Greek Life, so it’s incredible that the 4-5% of that which is male is attracted to tour groups that you’re near. Please do not continue to perpetuate the stereotype that all Greek members are Chads who love getting drunk and meeting girls. Greek members regularly contribute positively to campus life. For example, almost all Greek organizations contributed to UMassFTK which cumulatively raised over $212,000 this year. Greek Life raised an overwhelming majority of that, whether it be the organizations themselves, or the members of the board who were also part of Greek Life. On top of that, individual organizations do lots of philanthropy, which is often a core value of their organization. For example, Pi Kappa Phi raised over $5300 for their national charity in just one night by hosting an event at their lettered house. By continually perpetuating the stereotype that Greek Life contributes nothing to student life across the country, you are hilariously ignorant to the good that so many committed young people do across the country.

    Please do not forget how incredibly privileged you are to be at an institution which provides very well for its students. And don’t let that ignorance discourage other people from enjoying what UMass has to offer. UMass may have its caveats, but marginalizing students is not one of them.

  3. john aimo on April 25th, 2018 9:06 pm

    I read this entire comment, I was very moved by the author’s fury and upset. I am totally persuaded and think the op-ed was wrong.

    Also I think he may be in a fraternity considering his factual and nuanced information of fraternities on campus. #brosforlife

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