As college decision season heats up, we have had the privilege of seeing more flocks of prospective students and their guardians following a current Vassar student—that special breed who is able to expertly display both the virtues of the college and an impressive ability to walk backwards.
Personally, I’ve had three memorable interactions with these droves of people.
The first interaction is unfortunately a recurring one. As a Jewett resident, these groups are often the first thing I see when I step out in the morning (Vassar admissions really seems to love boasting about their Poughkeepsie skyscraper). The groups’ awe towards Jewett’s hotel-like lobby blinds them from seeing rushed students trying to navigate their way towards the quad. I’ve found myself training for these encounters at the labyrinths around campus.
The second interaction was on Tuesday afternoon while I attempted to grapple with how detrimental the winter season has been to my already-mediocre Spikeball abilities. In between points, I overheard one of these herds passing in front of Davi. The tour leader began: “If you were to poll students on who the best house was…” I finished their sentence with the only obvious answer in my head: “a majority of them would say that it is Davison House, which is here on my left.” But my guess was wrong. As the tour leader instead said, “the poll would be a nine-way tie,” I realized that I failed to recognize that the College could not dub a certain house the best one on campus. I imagined the headlines about a Vassar College housing scandal in which rich (and loving) parents bought their kids a spot in Davi. Against my better judgment, I almost wished it would happen. I’d be more than willing to sacrifice my hopes of moving into Davi next year in exchange for the endless amusement that such a scandal would bless the student body with.
I had made peace with the tour leader’s pitch and was ready to return to my Spikeball struggles. But then, the guide spoke a sentence so audacious it was horrifying to hear: “But if you ask me, I’d say Raymond House, where I live, is the best house on campus.”
Two thoughts came to my mind. The first was concern for the tour guide, who seemed both reasonable and smart enough to know better than to say what they just said. Is there some kind of indoctrination going down inside Raymond? Has anyone been brave enough to venture into the basement to make sure there isn’t some kind of full-fledged lab run by evil rats where residents are hypnotized? My second thought was how bad I felt for these possible future Vassar students being deceived by their tour guide. I suddenly had a newfound appreciation for never having the opportunity to tour Vassar last year before I committed, grateful for my lack of expectations for housing. Could you imagine someone from that tour group committing to Vassar and receiving the news that they had been placed in Raymond? They would be excited, and in for a horrible clash with reality as soon as they moved in and tried to do something like using the elevator.
My final interaction came on a Friday morning. With thunder and lightning the day before, Friday morning reigned with blue skies; fluffy clouds; and, of course, herds of tour groups. I walked out of Rocky at 10:32, right at the same time as two of them, distinguished by their tour guides walking backwards and almost tripping on their cheesy jokes and school spirit, approached. Now, the route from Rocky to Joss seems simple—follow the diagonal path. It was here that I looked up in horror. The tour group was walking in single file along the diagonal path. No biggie, I’ll go in front of Rocky to walk alongside Davi, but no. The other tour group was there too, boasting about Davi being the best house. So, I ended up race-walking alongside Strong and crossing in the middle path to beat the tour group and proceed in the diagonal. Unfortunately, this tour guide was zoomin’—I’ve never seen anyone walk backwards and talk at the same time as fast as she did. I mean, bravo, but I ended up having to walk all the way along Lathrop, crossing across Jewett, where I ran into them again, and finally bolted to the haven that is Joss. Their red lanyards and bright eyes look so hopeful as they take pictures, most of which I probably ended up photo-bombing. But damn it, I just finished a painful lecture and all I want to do is go back to bed, not navigate the Bermuda Triangle. This must be what Amelia Earhart felt like. Whenever I see a tour group now, it’s everyone for themselves. Walk fast and don’t make eye contact. At least eavesdropping on the tour guides’ claim that Vassar is “the best” will make you laugh. Don’t worry, I’m telepathically sending all the memos I can to these innocent students to run while they can.
If anyone else has had distressing experiences with tour groups, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are in solidarity with you and are here to support. We will get through this together, one tour at a time.