Crimson Key guides began giving Admissions Office tours this week under a new set of guidelines which some members say gives the office more control over the content of the traditionally independent student tours.
The admissions department has also developed a sample tour for Crimson Key guides to follow and will now pay the students who had previously worked on a volunteer basis.
L. Fred Jewett '57, director of admissions and financial aids, explained that the guidelines change the focus of the tours from a general overview of Harvard to one geared towards student life.
The change was prompted by the results of a two-year survey of students who were admitted by Harvard but decided not to come, Jewett said yesterday. Many of the respondents complained that the admissions office tour did not focus enough on the needs of prospective students.
Vanessa A. Davila '84, Crimson Key tour organizer, however, complained that the new policies put pressure on guides to give a one-sided view of the University.
Davila predicted that paying the guides would bias the guides towards the University's viewpoint. "As volunteers, we feel as though we serve applicants and not the University," Davila said.
Davila added that she felt particularly pressured because the Admissions Office had told her that they were continuing the tours only on a trial basis.
Jewett said the office decided to pay tour guides because he wanted higher-quality tours
"With a totally volunteer group, we had relatively little quality control," Jewett said. "When we expect much more of people, we ought to pay them," he added.
Davila claimed that several parts of the sample tour "manipulated statistics misleadingly."
She cited for example one sample that states that, of 700 courses open to undergraduates, 75 percent have 20 or fewer students enrolled in them. This statistic implies that an undergraduate spends 75 percent of his time in such classes, Davila said.
Davila said the tour guides identified the sections at a meeting and decided not to use those parts of the sample tour.
Lauren Cole '84, president of the Crimson Key Society, acknowledged that some members are upset by the changes, but said she personally favored them. Cole said the society had itself been considering similar changes in the focus of the tours.
Cole added that the policy of paying guides would not reduce the society's independence from the Admissions Office. She noted that the Crimson Key would still have the right to pick tour guides.