Rogue Guides Still a Problem

Student tours as social agitation

by James A. Bacon

The Jefferson Council continues to receive negative reports about the student tours at the University of Virginia. On Nov. 11, 2023, an alumnus posting under the name JBHoo05 wrote the following on the Virginia Sportswar message board

We had heard the tour at UVA was not good but decided to still go ahead and schedule one today. Even with low expectations, the tour managed to be worse than we expected. Our guide was kind but at times I wondered whether she even really liked UVA despite telling us at the end how much she loved it. We heard about how the dining hall food is not great (a given at a lot of schools but aren’t you supposed to spin things with a somewhat positive light on these tours?), how the school is “mostly safe” (who says that on an admissions tour?), how UVA has won 31 national championships in football (I wish), how almost all your classes will be in this area (we were standing in front of Cocke Hall), and then to top it off – a depressing 15 minute lecture (standing in the middle of the lawn on a beautiful day) on how the grounds were built with enslaved labor and details about the white supremacist rally (we were warned before she started that some of us might need to step away and take a break because we were about to start discussing some pretty hard stuff….what???). I have no problem participating in difficult discussions about UVA’s history but why in the heck would that be on an admissions tour and be one of the longest parts of the tour?

The last time we checked, back in June, University of Virginia officials assured us they were dealing with the problem of UVa-loathing Student Guides turning off prospective students with negative tours. The Admissions Office had hired an associate dean to improve the experience for prospective students, had increased the number of paid interns to give tours with approved scripts, and was engaging in conversation with volunteer Student Guides, who for decades have been entrusted with running the tours.

So, what the heck is going on? Has UVa fixed the phenomenon of rogue guides, or hasn’t it? I asked Stephen Farmer, vice president for enrollment, who has always responded to our questions with alacrity. His response to the JBHoo05 post:

As I mentioned back in June, this fall, in addition to Guide-led tours, the admission office has been offering tours led by student interns whom the office has recruited and trained. Based on what I’ve seen, heard, and heard about, the interns have done a good job. They understand that we depend on them to welcome guests warmly and tell good and truthful stories about the University and student life on Grounds. They’ve been eager to learn and have responded well to the feedback they’ve received. That feedback has generally been positive and trending in the right direction.

Where the University Guides are concerned, the organization’s leaders have worked actively with our team to respond to concerns and to troubleshoot tour content that is either inaccurate or inappropriate. We believe that they are on firmer ground as an organization than they were five months ago, that the leadership remains motivated to improve, and that we have in fact seen some improvement in the accuracy, tone, and overall quality of the admission tours that Guides provide.

Of course, it’s unacceptable that we’re still receiving any negative reviews, much less any that are as negative as the ones you shared. And regardless of the group – Guides or interns – that provided a disappointing tour, the disappointment is ultimately our responsibility.

Our job is to help our guests feel at home while they’re on Grounds and to have them leave us feeling respected, encouraged, and inspired. We’ll take stock next month of where we are, and we’ll decide what adjustments we’ll need to make heading into next semester.

Roughly what percentage of student tours (as opposed to historical tours open to the wider public) are led by Admissions interns and by Student Guides, I asked. Farmer’s response:

As a quick and rough estimate, the tours this fall have been split 50/50 between interns and University Guides.

Bottom line: After two years of controversy, the UVa admissions department still relies upon a student club with a demonstrated history of portraying UVa in a dismal light. Evidently, efforts to troubleshoot “inaccurate or inappropriate” tour content have enjoyed limited success.

As a voluntary student club, the Student Guides should be free to offer tours with whatever content they please, no matter how derogatory or defamatory of Thomas Jefferson and the University’s history. That’s free speech. But the administration is irresponsible to funnel prospective students to an organization whose presentations have been so persistently negative. Let the Student Guides find their own audience for their tours… if they can.

The fact that Admissions continues to rely upon the Student Guides for half of its tours is just incomprehensible.

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Rick Hotchner
Rick Hotchner
3 months ago

“But the administration is irresponsible to funnel prospective students to an organization whose presentations have been so persistently negative….The fact that Admissions continues to rely upon the Student Guides for half of its tours is just incomprehensible.”

Amen.

Will Ganrer
Will Ganrer
3 months ago

Thanks for staying on top of this issue. It disgusts me to hear this is still going on. I have two grandsons who could qualify for admission there, but with the current atmosphere, i can’t say I even want them to apply. How sad!

Wahoo76
Wahoo76
3 months ago

Maybe a pause should be placed on prospective student tours until things improve. They seem to be doing more harm than good.

GRob
GRob
3 months ago

“the administration is irresponsible to funnel prospective students to an organization whose presentations have been so persistently negative. Let the Student Guides find their own audience for their tours… if they can.”?
There should be zero University resources allocated to the Student Guides and the University should not sanction or recommend them.
But, unfortunately, the University is OK with their messaging.
A complete restructuring of the administration and faculty is required – and not going to happen.
This is hopeless and I would advise applicants to go elsewhere.

walter smith
walter smith
3 months ago

This is by design. Period.
Great and Good is intended to destroy UVA. In Jim Ryan’s (false) religion, UVA can only be “good” by destroying everything that made it.
UVA Today the other day, I think Wednesday before Thanksgiving, had a little ad blurb featuring Melody Barnes as a “servant leader.” The Marxists co-opt Christian language and concepts with their own deceptive use of the phrases to promote their agenda.
I am all for servant leadership, but as modeled by Christ, not as modeled by secular humanists to promote abortion, trans, DEI, CRT etc.
As John McWhorter has noted, DEI is a religion without forgiveness.
Meanwhile, ask any student – this has occurred every time I have asked – “Were you taught Jefferson was a rapist?” “Yes.” “do you know a scholars committee concluded it was almost certain that he had no children by Sally Hemings?” “No.” “Do you know the head scholar is a retired UVA Professor?” “No.” They the student asks – “What about the DNA?” “Do you know the DNA only shows a male in the Jefferson line, not Jefferson specifically?” “No.”
Try it your self.
The fact that UVA will not hold a forum/debate/ tell the truth is all you need to know.

Jen Hans
Jen Hans
3 months ago
Reply to  walter smith

Sometimes the truth hurts. Walter exposes the true intentions. Good just means be a good little Marxist advocate. Spread your hate around amply, especially to Christians

Clarity77
Clarity77
3 months ago
Reply to  walter smith

As to the state of free speech and inquiry over at the UVA law school, I read this morning in UVA’s propaganda screed, UVA Today, that Liz Cheney and the illustrious Tim Heaphy, special counsel to the farcical Jan.6 Committee recently co-taught a course to a puposefully limited group of law students who were each required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Wow! Is the this the future of the pursuit of truth at Mr. Jefferson’s university? Forthwith, the UVA Today description. “The small size of the class – and an implicit confidentiality agreement – allowed the students and speakers to ask and speak candidly about their findings and the incident’s connections to current events still unfolding in the news, Ahdout and others said.”

Walter smith
Walter smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Clarity77

And let’s not forget the Mueller course on the totally fake RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA! which UVA bragged about. Now we have Insurrection Liz getting $100k for 2 nights.
Meanwhile the J6ers rot in jail and get railroaded and there is a deafening silence from the same liberals who can’t wait to claim due process violations for real criminals (you know – murder, rape, theft), as opposed to Star Chamber treatment for people “guilty” of supporting Trump.
In the law school I went to, the silly professors believed everybody deserved due process. They also believed silly things like applying the law equally. They were not enlightened like the Lightbringers, JR and Risa. We needed them to show us how to Great “and Good.” Hail the Lightbringers!

Clarity77
Clarity77
3 months ago
Reply to  Walter smith

Jefferson clearly pointed out that as to truth, it “stands alone” or is self evident certainly not requiring confidentiality agreements as in the aforementioned law school course. The lengths this administration and faculty will go to in order to indoctrinate and control the narrative becomes absolutely ludicrous to the point at which what is actually clear is a bald faced attempt to both hide and avoid the actual truth especially surrounding J6. Quite a pathetic “educational” atmosphere to which to subject students to say the least!

James B Newman
James B Newman
3 months ago

Maybe we should organize individuals to randomly take the tours and openly correct the misinformation. This happening persistantly is tragic.

Clarity77
Clarity77
3 months ago

Astonishing and downright incomprehensible that this is still going on! One can only conclude that it is in fact intentional.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
3 months ago
Reply to  Clarity77

It is absolutely intentional. This way m9derate and conservative students/parents who hear these anti-Jefferson, anti-UVA, anti-American Lawn Tour guide diatribes elect not to attend UVA. Leftist students who buy this BS eat it up and decide to attend.

Result?

By self selection President Ryan has created a significant core of radical students who agree with his visceral hatred of UVA and Jeffersonian traditions.

Jen Hans
Jen Hans
3 months ago

If the prospective student looks past the terrible student guide tour, just wait till admitted student day. Completely unimpressive. After hitting up VT, I was ready to say yeah, just be a Hokie. The Hokie spirit was on fire whereas the uva day was full of unimpressive ‘entertainment’. Ew

Dennis Hughes
Dennis Hughes
3 months ago

It seems obvious the Ryan administration knows their days are numbered. They appear to be working overtime sewing their Marxist philosophy into the tapestry of the University by the hiring of new deans and faculty and lip service to the BOV.

Wahoo83
Wahoo83
3 months ago
walter smith
walter smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Wahoo83

You mistake quantity for quality.
Just like the huge donations coming in for excellence.
What do the hotels have to do with educational mission?
Maybe you could make the argument for the Kimpton at Darden …IF Darden had a hotel management school. Down at the bottom of the hill, near Mem Gym? That complex? Wasn’t Boar’s Head and Birdwood enough?

The Common App is just a way to encourage more applications, as “stretch” schools, so the “elite” schools can brag about the low offer rate, while certain people may even luck out on the disguised racial grift aspect. This demeans qualtiy, but is excellent virtue-signaling among the so-called elite schools.

I don’t think UVA is worth the money…as an in-State parent!

BOV – require SATs NOW! The only reason the “elite” schools dropped the SATs was because they made the law-breaking too obvious.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
3 months ago
Reply to  Wahoo83

It’s easy to get 56,000 applicants when you don’t require SAT’s, the only objective criterion to differentiate student applicants who come from high schools with wildly variant academic quality.

Hal Juren
Hal Juren
3 months ago

What’s incomprehensible to me is that these kids, who hate UVA, were admitted in the first place, when there are so many who desperately want to attend but who are rejected.

walter smith
walter smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Hal Juren

But…if you fill the school with kids who hate Jefferson or America or are ambivalent (like most college kids before indoctrination), then it is much easier to destroy Jefferson, while professing with hand held out to megadonors how much you intend to protect him.