Confusion Corner: Giving tours is no walk in the park

As a tour guide at the College of William and Mary, I excel in using my tour groups to block all staircases and entry ways, no matter how hard you are trying to make it to class on time. I also succeed in being annoyingly loud in the library while commending students on respecting the Earl Gregg Swem Library sound levels, and I tell the same “kiss at the top of the bridge and live happily ever after” Crim Dell story until I start to believe it myself. However, if none of these actions sounds familiar and tour guiding is the last thing you would ever do in your spare time, let this confession be a testament to how much the tour guides love the college, as well as how much we all welcome passerby participation.

While most tours start out identically, the first 15 minutes is a make-it-or-break-it countdown to how long it will take to mutter something completely idiotic. Another 20 minutes in, most of us are already recovering from an awkward joke that was meant to break the even more awkward silence, mumbling something about professor-student ratios just to make the rest of our nonsense seem credible. If it’s windy or raining, we also know that we are facing a humorless tour group that would rather pay out-of-state tuition than show any sign of encouragement or offer a thank-you for showing them around in the first place.

Completely out of breath from the multitude of steps between the Sadler Center, Swem, Barrett Hall and old campus, we beg for questions. This request unfailingly ends with one or two creative variations of “Are all dorms air conditioned?” and “How bad is the food here?” Without fail, we always finish in ancient campus, secretly hoping that College President Taylor Reveley will choose that very moment to walk out of his house, gracing us with his succulent presence and immaculate vocabulary before patting us on the back for how pleasing we have been.

Alas, Reveley never shows up for the grand finale and the rest of the student body stares on, appalled at the idea that high school students are walking our hallowed grounds in the first place. Fortunately, that is something we can change.

For example, instead of pushing your way through the tour group as you send a mass Snapchat to your closest friends, give the potential College students an encouraging smile for braving the trip to Williamsburg with 12 of their closest relatives in the first place. Ideally, take a page out of Duke University’s YouTube videos and reunite with your freshman hall to streak in fur costumes in a multitude of empty beer cans for a parents’ weekend or two.

If a tour guide ever pulls you over and asks you to relate to the group your favorite thing about the College, stop copping out with “Oh, everything” and “Man, that’s so hard,” and have the courage to say what you are actually thinking. Something along the lines of “I have a secret hamster pet hidden in my dorm,” “I may or may not have a fake ID,” or “I only go to class if the teacher tallies participation” would at least be honest and entertaining.

Just take a moment to look up and say hello to the tour groups as you pass them. Students at the College have a habit of being so caught up in their own schoolwork and cell phones that they often forget to welcome the students who will soon be taking our places. So, next time you see a giant tour group coming your way, put away your iPhone, put on your nicest face, and take a moment to show them how wonderful we all can be.

Dasha Godunova is a Confusion Corner columnist and is anxiously waiting for Reveley to make an appearance during one of her tours.


  1. Hopefully many tours witnessing an engagement yesterday was a fantastic way of showing prospective students how wonderful we all can be! Also, is there any compensation for tour guides? It should be custom to for tour guides to receive TIPS for their hard work!


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