‘Hahvahd’ Tours Nearly Stopped by Administration

Harvard News Office spies during tour; ‘He just didn’t look like a tourist’

Two Harvard College students looked to fuel their summer vacation with a simple idea: serve up an off-beat tour of Harvard Yard and the surrounding areas to the visitors that abound in Harvard Square. But as critical e-mails and meetings with University officials flooded in, it became clear that their idea was, at least in Harvard’s eyes, anything but simple.

Jordan C. Jones ’07 and Daniel A. Schofield-Bodt ’07 began offering “The Harvard Tour” to tourists and prospective applicants on May 26. They continued offering their unconventional trip across the University without incident through the weekend of alumni reunions.

On June 12, however, trouble came in the form of an e-mail from the Harvard Provost’s office, by way of Marshall P. Page, as well as e-mails from Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd, Assistant Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II, and Harvard Trademark Program Director Rick Calixto.

The e-mails laid out a number of concerns with the two students’ tours—among them the tour’s original “The Harvard Tour” title, the use of certain pictures of Harvard in tour materials, and the tour’s status, in the office’s opinion, as a student business.

“Basically, they came at us with all their muscle, and told us that we’ve got to shut down,” Schofield-Bodt said.

Those e-mails set off a chain of events that has left the tour—now known as “The Unofficial Hahvahd Tour”—in a detente with the University. They have been allowed to run the tour over the summer, but they must apply for accreditation from the College in the fall—a process that is by no means sure to be a success.

The day after receiving Page’s e-mail, Jones and Schofield-Bodt replied with their opinion that what they had put together was not an “official business” and, as a result, they were not subject to many of the restrictions placed on student businesses by Harvard—among them, a requirement that all student businesses be reviewed by the University before implementation.

A second e-mail from Page made note of this requirement, stating that the tours “must cease indefinitely, not to be resumed in any similar form without College approval...You have a right to present a business plan to the appropriate review committee when it reconvenes in the fall, but I can tell you that there are multiple precedents in place in which the committee has ruled against allowing business applications for student tours of campus.”

In the e-mail, Page also stated that the tour’s website had to be taken down because the address of the page contained the word “Harvard” in conjunction with a .com web domain, and that “all print materials for ‘The Harvard Tour’ should be destroyed as soon as possible.”

On June 16th, as the existence of the tour stood in limbo, Jones and Schofield-Bodt noticed a peculiar person in the crowd for one of their tours.

“He appeared a little awkward throughout the tour,” said Jones of the man who “just didn’t look like a tourist.” The man also carried a pricey-looking video camera and recorded the tour diligently.

Schofield-Bodt said that when he asked the man if he worked for Harvard, the man identified himself as Joseph Wrinn, the head of the Harvard News Office. Wrinn said that he was sent by request of Robin Parker, who works in the Harvard Events & Information Center, according to Jones and Schofield-Bodt.

“That was kind of a turning point,” said Jones. “We had sensed that Harvard was spying on us...but now we knew it was a fact.”

The two say that in the wake of this encounter, they began jokingly asking tour-takers whether they too were “spies” sent by Harvard.

As the situation began to cool and the unofficial tours became a fixture in Harvard Square, Jones and Schofield-Bodt received one last e-mail from Kidd, requesting a meeting on June 23.

“We thought that Dean Kidd was maybe just wanting to know who we were,” said Jones.

Page and McLoughlin were also present at the meeting.

“At the beginning of the meeting she gave us 100% credit for finding the loophole,” said Jones.

They say that the discussion with Page became “testy,” but that they ultimately agreed that the tours could continue at least through the summer.

Jones and Schofield-Bodt say they agreed to correct Harvard trademark violations in the tour’s original title, brochures, and website—hence the tour’s new name, The Unofficial Hahvahd Tour.

“They wanted to pressure us from the beginning, but they knew the rules. They knew what we all know—that we were perfectly legitimate within the rules of the handbook,” said Jones.

Schofield-Bodt and Jones credit Kidd most with the settlement of their dispute with Harvard.

In an e-mail, Schofield-Bodt wrote, “while we felt deceived by the Provost Office and the Information Office, our overall impression and interactions with Dean Kidd and the College have been very positive.”

“Our meeting with her was the first time our voices were heard,” he wrote.

Page took exception to the Provost Office’s allegedly deceitful attitude.

“Jordan and Daniel did rightfully point out that registration of student businesses was only required during the academic year, but all use-of-name issues were valid,” wrote Page in an e-mail to the Crimson. “I work with Deans Kidd and McLoughlin on student use-of-name issues regardless of whether or not students have official business status.”

In an e-mail to The Crimson, Kidd wrote that she “took the tour and enjoyed it,” but that The Unofficial Hahvahd Tour was not fully in the clear yet. “However, as students running a business they will need to be in touch with the Office of the Dean in the fall to go through the student business registration process,” she wrote. “Once College resumes, they will need to cease operating until they have completed that process.”

—Staff writer Nicholas A. Ciani can be reached at nciani@fas.harvard.edu.