UNCW Student Ambassadors no longer solely responsible for giving campus tours

The+view+a+Chancellor%27s+Walk+on+UNCW%27s+campus.+

Lauren Wessell

The view a Chancellor’s Walk on UNCW’s campus.

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

On Sept. 7, the UNCW Student Ambassadors released an announcement on their social media that they would no longer be responsible for giving campus tours. 

Student Ambassadors have been voluntarily giving campus tours for over 30 years and their post listed “changes within Office of Admissions” as the reason for this change.

According to Dr. Lauren Scott, Senior Associate Director of Admissions, the Office of Admissions reached out to the Student Ambassadors on Aug. 25 to share some of these changes.

“We were really finding that in order to meet some of these really increasing recruitment and enrollment goals we had to start to change our practice a little bit,” Scott said. “So COVID I think kind of was the wheel that maybe started us in a direction, but it really has made us reevaluate some of the things that we are doing from a recruitment standpoint.” 

The Office of Admissions typically sees 17 to 18,000 visitors a year, according to Scott. However, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), their office has not given a tour since March, they are not on the road recruiting and no one is coming to the office to see them. This period of time has allowed the office to reevaluate how their office runs. 

Previously campus tours, given by the Student Ambassadors, were offered twice a day, Monday through Friday. 

“Moving forward, in order to really compete with our peers and hit some of our goals we need to offer more campus tours, more frequently, with smaller numbers of groups,” Scott said. “Now with COVID-19 I have to have a mask and we have to do everything much smaller. So we’re going away from two campus tours a day where we could fit up to 100 people on a campus tour, to now going down to probably offering about six campus tours a day, 10 people max, 45 minutes so we have to really be able to still provide that experience while being sane and managing students schedule.”

Along with the increase of tours, Scott said her office realized that they needed to start paying students giving the tours in order to meet the increased demands. By offering compensation for tour guides, students now have to apply on Handshake. 

“I also needed a little bit more control over how many tour guides I have, who’s coming when, am I making it equitable, are we diversifying and are we meeting all the times that we need,” Scott said. “So, Student Ambassadors have anywhere between 50 to 60 members, but I can’t pay 50 to 60 members to give a tour so we reached out to the ambassadors and said, ‘you know, we know this is a part of your organization and a part of the mission that you guys do and we are changing it.’ We invited the Student Ambassadors if they were interested in giving campus tours to now apply for a paid position so moving from something that they used to just do because they had to as a member of the organization to now the opportunity to be paid.”

Scott said they have already hired 20 students, some still being Student Ambassadors and they hope to start offering campus tours again in early Oct. 

Other ways campus tours will look different include tour guides using voice amplifiers since masks are mandatory on campus, a shorter route to decrease traffic flow in buildings and changing the starting location to outside.

Along with these changes, the Student Ambassadors wrote that this decision has impacted and caused them to shift the mission of their organization and evolve their group moving forward.  

“We are still going through the process of figuring out our new mission,” the Student Ambassadors wrote on Sept. 17.

“We tried to articulate this with that the Student Ambassadors, but you know we’ve been so grateful for their dedication and service as not just to our office but to the university,” Scott said. “I feel like I felt a deep connection with them because I was a student ambassador but they do so much for the campus on top of interacting with prospective students. And we are really excited to hopefully  strengthen that relationship in a different way that’s not the campus tours.”