In a pre-pandemic semester, the most familiar sights of spring were cherry blossoms blooming and backwards-walking students leading hordes of prospective students eager to get a taste of Cornell campus life.
While the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the University has temporarily placed tours on hold in order to limit the number of outsiders present on campus and keep the student body safe. Recently, however, students have observed groups of high schoolers and parents taking part in personal campus visits unaffiliated with the Cornell touring service.
Rebekah Rendino ’23 described a personal encounter with an unapproved tour group on campus. “I remember just random people coming to campus without masks. It was really frustrating,” she said.
Current Cornell visitor guidelines prohibit campus visitors from entering any campus facility, but there are no rules prohibiting them from walking around the campus, as long as they remain outside and follow masking and distancing guidelines.
In the email, executive director of undergraduate admissions Shawn Felton wrote, “Should you choose to come to campus on your own, please know that you will need to abide by Cornell’s Travel and Visitor Policy.” He also reminded students that groups over ten people are not allowed on campus.
College tours can play a crucial role in the decision-making process for prospective students trying to decide where they would like to spend the next four years.
But classic programs like Cornell Days, in-person campus tours and student hosting have been suspended due to COVID-19. Some students believe that these are crucial parts of the college decision process and should be better accommodated by the University — even though some students, including many international students and low income students for example, have not easily accessed this option.
“Maybe there’s a system that the University could set up to track, contact trace and approve on campus visitation,” suggested Theo Bloch ’23.
While some students expressed concern about the presence of touring groups on campus, others are not opposed to it.
“I believe if families are coming to campus, staying outdoors and abiding by social distancing guidelines put in place by Cornell, there is no problem with the unofficial tours,” said Macy Berryman ’23, even though she has never seen any groups on campus. “As long as they wear a mask, I think it’s okay, and I haven’t seen huge groups,” agreed Jessie Partridge ’23.
At least until May 3 when admitted students have to commit, current Cornellians can expect to see excited high schoolers roaming around campus in their self-led tours.
“When appropriate health measures are followed, outdoor visits to campus and the surrounding area can be done safely,” Felton wrote.