Starting this year, student tour guides will receive $7.50 per hour for their services. This is a change from previous years, when giving tours was a voluntary activity during the academic year and paid only during breaks, summer vacation and during special events.
The tour guides’ wages will be paid out of the admissions budget.
The new pay scale has resulted in a number of new applicants. “We’ve had a lot of calls and walk-ins since the new policy,” Assistant Director of Admissions Emily Cihon said. All tour guide positions were filled this fall, and new tour guides will be hired once current tour guides have graduated.
Tour guides, who work between two and four hours a week during the academic year, are expected to be motivated and enthusiastic about the UR. “We look for students that are enthusiastic about UR and involved in a lot of activities, that have had a positive experience,” Cihon said.
According to Cihon, the fact that guides are now paid should not be the impetus for new applicants. “We want people who are excited about giving tours and working with prospective students,” Cihon said. “We do not want the money to be the sole motivation.”
Now that guides are paid, their job description covers more than giving tours. They will also be doing clerical work in the Admissions office, including filing documents, and answering e-mails making phone calls and hosting prospective students.
Many current UR students recall their own tours positively. “I liked my tour. I knew I was coming here, but my tour was really fun. It convinced me to come here further,” freshman Kristen Pasquarella said.
Student opinion on the payment issue varied. “I think they deserve to get paid, because each person they give a tour to is a prospective student the school’s going to make money off of,” sophomore Dan Staloff said.
Junior Tarik Smith agreed. “I think getting paid more will make them want to do better, so they can be sure to keep the job,” he said.
Freshman Stephen Goldburger saw this issue as one of economics. “If they need quality tour guides and have to pay them, that’s the way the market system works,” he said.
Other students believe that tour guides should remain volunteer positions. “Tour guides should do it because they want to do it,” sophomore Alex Chekholko said. “If it’s someone who’s just doing it because they want to get paid, they may not put so much into it.”
Freshman Jennifer Meniak said, “I’m not sure if they should get paid. It just seems kind of morally questionable. If I was a parent, I would be kind of suspicious if a school paid their tour guides.”
Many tour guides do not believe that their roles will change because of the pay. “I think that receiving pay for giving tours will not affect the quality or truthfulness of the tour,” says junior David Weiner, who works as a tour guide.
“During the summer, I was a paid tour guide, and it is my belief that it had no effect on the tour that I gave,” Weiner said.
Treanor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.