Tour guides and ‘Virtual RA’s’ adapt to changing campus

Prospective students given the option to attend virtual tours

For over a year now, the pandemic has continued to impact Trinity’s campus and activities. Most notably, campus fixtures such as tour guiding and residential life have seen unprecedented changes to their functions and ways of work. In order to still allow prospective students to visit and tour campus, the admissions and tour teams had to make many adjustments in order to accommodate the new health protocols.

Assistant Director of Admissions, Hillary Everts, reiterates the new guidelines and regulations for allowing tours.

“One of the main changes to the tours is the limited number of students per tour,” Everts said. “Each student is allowed 3 guests, with 3 families allowed per tour guide; that means there are 13 people maximum [including the tour guide] on each tour.”

Although there are fewer guests allowed per tour, the team has worked to increase the number of tours and make them a special experience for prospective students.

“The tours have become a lot more personable since there are fewer guests per tour and I think that has really benefited everyone; they are able to get that personal attention and have a unique, tailored visit,” Everts said.

Beyond the changes to tour practices, there has been increased concern surrounding the safety and protocol around allowing strangers onto campus to interact with certain students.

Junior marketing major, Ellie Dootson, describes her first semester of tour guiding during the pandemic as safe and still exciting.

“It was really interesting because I started during COVID, so everything was different,” Dootson said. “I think it’s obviously hard touring any school during the pandemic, but I think that Trinity has done a really great job because even though we can’t go inside most buildings, we can go inside a model dorm room and the Bell Center, so of course it’s not the same, but it’s something.”

Despite her positive experiences with beginning her job during the pandemic, Dootson states that there have still been difficulties working with visitors, and that the admissions team does all that they can to ensure that it is a safe and comfortable environment for addressing concerns.

“I really can’t say enough good things about the tour guide team and how proactive they’ve been in making us feel safe,” Dootson said. “I’ve had experiences where parents express that they don’t like masks very much, and I am able to use my voice and not tolerate that if I ever feel at risk.”

Along with in-person tours, Trinity has offered various ways to include out of state and off campus students for touring.

“I do virtual tours as well, so that’s always great since tons of people can go to those without having to get on a plane and come here,” Dootson said. “I’m very grateful that I am able to do this during a pandemic because I can’t imagine going through [the admissions process] and not even be able to get the full tour experience.”

Another big on campus experience that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic is the role of Resident Assistants. Junior Marissa Young describes it as stressful, yet a good learning experience in regards to her growth as a student leader.

“I think like most students I have talked to, the pandemic has certainly added some stress to our lives, mostly just because there was a lot of rapid adjustment without any clear precedent or examples to follow,” Young said. “As an RA during the pandemic, we had a really great support system from the pro staff, however, there were lots of things that had to change without much warning as information about the virus progressed.”

In order to accommodate all students, on or off campus during the pandemic, the Residential Life staff applied certain RAs to off campus and virtual learning students.

“I actually was supposed to be a “normal” RA but very suddenly became a virtual RA so all of my residents were first-year Trinity students who were living at home, which is a position we have never had before,” Young said. “This added an extra challenge to the RA role because Reslife had to figure out how to help these students connect and be a part of the Trinity community despite their various home-life situations.”

As campus prepares to return to a more normal situation for next semester, both Admissions and Residential Life are preparing to adjust once again, as well as keep some of the newer protocols.

“I think a lot of times college students, in general, may complain about things or not like the ways something is being handled but then we just complain about it among ourselves and do nothing to get it changed,” Young said. “I have found it really helpful to talk through things that are frustrating me or overwhelming me with the residential pro-staff so that we can try to come up with a solution that works for everyone.”