Now, it is “Unofficial Tours, Inc. Presents Harvard,” and starting this Friday, it will begin operation as an official student-run business, directly competing with the Crimson Key Society (CKS) in the Harvard tourist market.
This may mark the end of months of uncertainty over the group’s status.
About two weeks after Jordan C. Jones ’07 and Daniel A. Schofield-Bodt ’07 began offering their colorful, extra-long “Harvard Tour” in late May, they received an e-mail from Marshall C. Page of the Provost’s Office, stating that the tours violated Harvard trademark and student business rules and must “cease indefinitely.”
In response, Jones and Schofield-Bodt shut down operations for two days, but were able to resume business after changing their name to “The Unofficial Hahvahd Tour” and pointing out that student business registration is only necessary during the academic year.
Once the academic year began, however, The Hahvahd Tour had to take another hiatus while awaiting approval from the Student Business Advisory Committee (SBAC).
Last Friday, the Hahvahd honchos were told by Dean Judith H. Kidd that they could forge on, but under certain stipulations.
Their contract prohibits them from using “Hahvahd,” in their name, but permits them to use Harvard—contrary to the agreements reached this summer.
On June 29, the President and Fellows of Harvard College filed a trademark application for the word “Hahvahd” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The Unofficial Tours’ contract also forbids them from “intentionally drawing visitors away from official Harvard tours, and ‘stating that the information conveyed during tours is information Harvard does not want visitors to hear,” according to an article in The Boston Globe.
To some, though, it came as a surprise that “Unofficial Tours, Inc.” was approved at all.
“It was a little bit of a surprise that they were accepted as an official business,” said CKS vice-president Teddy Styles ’07, “considering our relationship with the administration.” The CKS has been the only student-run tour group on Campus for the past 58 years.
Jones and Schofield-Bodt are both former CKS tour guides and “much of their tour is a direct result of that training and experience and is almost identical to those provided by official Crimson Key tour guides,” Styles and CKS president Nicole T. Townsend ’07 wrote in a letter to the editor of The Crimson.
Schofield-Bodt also ran unsuccessfully for president and vice-president of CKS.
The CKS board also submitted a position paper to the SBAC explaining the history between the two Unofficial Tour guides and the CKS.
The CKS “materials were considered” by the SBAC, Kidd wrote in an an e-mail. But “all of the work of the Student Business Advisory Committee is confidential,” she added.
Jones and Schofield-Bodt are adamant that their Harvard tours differ significantly from all others—listing their scope and off-beat, performance-like qualities as reasons why.
Jones told podcast “Boston Behind The Scenes” in August that “unlike the other tours that are often times dry and extremely lame, to be honest...our tours tend to be much more funny.”
Where Unofficial Tours will be objectively distinct, is in their comp and business structure. Aside from accruing up to $2,000 a week in tour tips, Unoffical Tours brings in ad revenue by distributing a coupon book promoting local businesses.
The group currently has about 10 business contracts and plans on making more deals in the greater Boston area.
With this revenue, Unofficial Tour compers “are going to be paid for each round of the comp,” says Jones, “even those who don’t make the final cut.”
The Unofficial Tours comp begins this week. CKS only has a spring comp.
“I think their might be students who are attracted to both,” says Townsend. “But I don’t that it’s really going to affect...the appeal of Crimson Key.”
—Staff writer Nina L. Vizcarrondo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.