Not only do our tour guides have to know how to walk backwards but they also have to be able to sugarcoat the not-so-brochure-friendly aspects of our fine university.
“To your left we have Stanford Residential College, which has two towers – Rosborough and Walsh – and is home to more than 900 students. To your right are the Intramural Fields where the marching band prepares for football games, club sports hold practices and where, ahem, girls in, uh, bikinis two sizes too small spend their free time laying out and smoking copious amounts of cigarettes.”
As guides lead packs of parents and prospective students along the lake in front of the Rat, they field safety concerns from parents. Just as the guides assure them that the lake is very safe, a student lets out a scream as she spots a 10-foot crocodile looming nearby.
Then the parents ask about the prevalence of drinking on campus – particularly underage drinking. The tour guides explain how UM is designated as a wet campus since alcohol is served at the Rat but that student drinking isn’t much of a problem. Meanwhile, there are gliders full of fraternity brothers chugging pitchers of beer at noon.
Later the tour concludes with parents and their kids boarding the Hurry ‘Cane Shuttles on their way back to Ponce Garage. They laugh at the play on words with Hurricane and “Hurry ‘Cane.” Their tour guide laughs along with them but for a different reason. Is the name clever? Absolutely. But it’s also sadly ironic.
Whether we realize it or not, we’re making our tour guides’ jobs a lot harder than they need to be. A number of things the tour guides say are contradicted by what’s going on around them. If UM is on its way to becoming a new “Ivy,” that effort should not be reflected solely by its administration but by its students as well. Until then, cheers to our alma mater. Now let’s go tan.