In response to a recent uptick in unauthorized tour groups around campus, a new policy will restrict non-Yale-affiliated tour groups from entering the residential colleges.
Under the new policy, adopted by Yale Heads of College and tour guides, only tour groups organized by the Yale Admissions Office and the Yale Visitor Center are permitted to enter the residential colleges.
“Given the limited availability of campus spaces and security concerns, it is necessary to restrict certain spaces to members of the Yale community and university-sponsored tours,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan told the News. “We believe this policy also helps to direct visitors towards one of the many opportunities [to] take a free Yale-sponsored tour with a knowledgeable campus tour guide, and away from independent operators seeking to profit off their visit.”
Pierson Head of College Stephen Davis GRD ’98 said that Pierson receives less foot traffic than other residential colleges due to its location in one corner of campus, but he noted that unauthorized tours have become “more of a problem” in centrally located colleges. The Council of Heads of College decided to notify their college communities of the policy early this semester, Davis said.
In an email to the Silliman community on Jan. 9, Head of College Laurie Santos asked students to refrain from letting in tour groups that do not have clearly visible Yale Admissions Office or Visitor Center placards.
“As you’ve probably noticed, our courtyard is a favorite stop for lots of tour groups,” Santos wrote in the email. “This policy protects the privacy and security of students as well as residential college heads, deans, resident fellows, and the families that live within our walls.”
Jonathan Edwards Head of College Mark Saltzman also said he has noticed more unauthorized tour groups in JE. While Saltzman noted he does not know the precise cause for the recent uptick, Saltzman suspected that when the official tour program expanded to include visits to all of the colleges, unauthorized groups “piggybacked on that, hoping that the additional intrusions would not be noticed.”
Heads of College emphasized that the policy is necessary to protect students in their own residential space.
“JE is the smallest of the colleges, so tour groups disrupt the flow of life in our small courtyard much more significantly than any other college,” Saltzman wrote in an email to the News. “Another serious concern is that we certainly do not want unauthorized visitors to gain access to college entryways and other spaces where students work and live.”
Not all residential colleges, however, have experienced an increase in non-Yale tourists. In an email to the News, Morse Head Catherine Panter-Brick wrote that Morse has not had unauthorized groups entering the college. Benjamin Franklin Head Charles Bailyn ’81 said that unauthorized groups are a “much bigger issue at some of the older colleges.” While Franklin and Murray are popular among alumni who want to see the new residential colleges, the visitors are generally authorized groups or individuals, Bailyn added. Grace Hopper Head Julia Adams also said that she has not noticed an uptick in unauthorized visitors entering the Hopper courtyard.
Several students who spoke with the News said that while they noticed the tour groups, their presence was not “overwhelming.”
“If anything I would just be amazed by the quantity of groups touring in the courtyard,” said Emily Slaughter ’21.
Emma Rutan ’21, an admissions tour guide, told the News that she often sees large groups near Sterling Memorial Library but is unsure whether they are official groups.
“We’ve received a lot of instruction recently on how to notice and respond to those groups,” she said. “The visitor center and admissions office are taking it very seriously.”
According to Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions John Yi ’13, nearly 60,000 prospective students and family members take an official tour from the admissions office each year. Free tours are offered by either the Admissions Office or the Visitor Center every day of the year except Thanksgiving, the day of The Game and the last week of December.
“In addition to more than 1,000 regularly scheduled tours offered throughout the year, the admissions office coordinates dozens of free tours for nonprofit schools and groups. All of these admissions office tours are in addition to the more than 1,000 tours offered annually by the Visitors Center,” Yi said.
This year, Yale admitted 794 early action applicants.
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