The life of a tour guide
By Francesca McGuire
April 28, 2015
“Shut the fuck up!”
I heard a student scream from the third floor of an Indian Quad dorm. It was a Sunday morning at 11 A.M., and I was in the middle of my second campus tour of the day.
As a tour guide, I recognize that the explosively loud voices of my 20 coworkers and myself can sometimes be intrusive in the early hours of a weekend morning. However, this was not a typical Sunday afternoon. It was Open House for accepted students at the University at Albany. This was my second consecutive day waking up at 7 a.m., along with my fellow tour guides, in order to greet thousands of new students that were coming to visit the university.
The last thing I want to do is deprive anyone of his or her late afternoon sleep, when I myself have been awake since the crack of dawn. I walk backwards for hours throughout the campus and answer the same questions sometimes 15 or 20 times a day.
None of this ever bothers me: I accept it as a part of the job that I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to doing every week. I love speaking about my experience at UAlbany, showcasing our unique campus and being in a position where I can convince others to attend as well. However, the part of my job that I refuse to accept is the constant encounters with students who feel it is acceptable to scream profanities or rude comments to the large groups of people who are receiving their first impression of the school.
If one is a current student, and has ever made a harmful comment to a tour group, he/ she makes our jobs increasingly more difficult. More importantly, he/she makes our university look bad as a whole.
“Don’t come here, the food sucks.”
“The TA’s here are terrible.”
“Coming to this school was the worst decision of my life.”
If my coworkers and I sat down to share our collective experience with the negative comments we receive, we would be truly bothered. Just know that this is our job, and although anyone has the freedom to state their comments or shout their opinions, before one does, take a second to empathize with us. Especially to the students that are employed elsewhere, think about how you would feel if someone followed you around just to contradict everything you were trying to sell or promote.
As a tour guide, we truly believe in the product we are trying to sell, which is our school. We recognize that students can have bad days, and that maybe they do not have a great experience with all aspects of our campus. What we want people to realize is that they have an entire year compromised of hundreds of chances to have a delicious lunch, for one’s teaching assistant to take the time to personally help him/her with an assignment, or maybe, one might step into the sunshine at Collins Circle and simply be grateful to be here. However, the prospective students and families that are following us around campus will only have one day to make their decision. They should be able to make it free from the influence of others.
To those who felt it was okay to scream at families through their dorm windows, I wish they had realized the events that were going on. Sometimes, when thousands of people visit the school, it can be more important than that extra hour of completely peaceful sleep one can get on a Sunday morning. It is about putting aside one’s exhaustion or headache from the night before and realize that although these tours should be an expected part of campus life, they will not happen every day. In fact, other than last weekend, tours never happen on Sunday mornings on Indian Quad (they do happen Saturday mornings on State Quad at Fulton Hall- our sincerest apologies).
Open House is crucial because it happens to take place right before our Admissions Deposit Deadline. For many visiting students in the next few weeks, our campus tours will be the deciding factor in regards to attending UAlbany. I ask on behalf of my coworkers, Supervising Tour Coordinator and Admissions Counselors who I know work tirelessly to accommodate and interact with thousands of our visiting students that people please refrain from casually directing harmful comments at our groups. I only have one hour to showcase our university, and I would love to spend more time talking about our libraries, fountains, or resources, than doing damage control because of a statement that was made.
Lastly, to anyone who intrudes on tours because they are truly unhappy with their experience at UAlbany, I encourage everyone to take advantage of the vast resources the university has to offer. There are over 200 clubs you can join, professional counselors you can speak too, personalized tutoring one can receive, or even just a different meal plan that will be more accommodating to your needs.
And if one needs help, feel free to stop by University Hall and speak to a tour guide. We would love to help, and are more than willing to lend a hand when it comes to utilizing all of the resources UAlbany has to offer.