These past few months, Lewis & Clark has seen an increase of tour groups on campus, despite the rain and snow, visitors trudge through campus with the signature LC-orange umbrellas. We have seen them on pathways, in our dining hall, Fowler Center (formerly Templeton Campus Center) and now even our dorms. We see them staring at us through classroom windows and as we walk by on our way to classes.
I understand that prospective students and visitors may want to check out our campus, classes and dorms. I was a tourist myself during the pandemic, and my visit greatly helped with making a decision about which college to attend. It was, however, better that I got it done during spring break, as there were very few students for our tour group to disturb.
Having the experience of checking out a school while it is in session may help with immersion and getting a glimpse into a student’s day-to-day life. There are drawbacks for students, when too many large tour groups start to block pathways, take pictures of students without consent and tour places meant only for students and faculty.
I woke up one morning to go to class and, when I walked through the Platt Lounge, I ran straight into a tour group who stopped and stared at me as I walked past. After that awkward, jarring encounter, I was inspired to write this article. This was jarring, as I was under the impression that dorm buildings and residential areas were reserved for students who lived there. While I understand that they are being escorted by a tour guide, it feels wrong to have strangers in the place where I live.
My understanding is that my dorm, Platt West, is a generally open space where people come and go freely, doors usually remain open to other students and there is a certain trust amongst the residents. Having many strangers coming in unannounced each day may impact the security that we feel within our dorm. I feel that the school should get the residence’s consent before allowing tourists into the place we live.
It is also my understanding, as some of my peers have told me, that this is common in other schools and sometimes there are empty dorms or occupied rooms shown with the residence’s consent that are used as models for these families to view. In my opinion, this is not as disruptive of the security of our living space and is consensual.
While I understand that coming to see the place that you will be living and studying for the next four or so years is completely necessary and a really good idea, it can be a bit uncomfortable when people stare through windows into in-session classes or while we are eating at dining halls.
The week before spring break, there was a man filming in the Trail Room, which was not a bother until he started focusing the camera on me eating my hamburger. Now there is a strange man somewhere out there with a video of me eating, which is incredibly weird and somewhat creepy.
There will always be a few people who cross boundaries with external permission and without, but I advise that tour groups be conscious of students who actually live and study on campus and have made it their home. Oftentimes, we can feel like zoo animals when we see people staring at us through the glass when we have classes in Miller.
The school should prioritize its current students’ safety and comfort over students who might not have even decided if they want to come here. While I am glad to welcome those who want to check out the campus, there should be a little more respect and communication when it comes to this place that I have called my home.