Ohio University student tour guides find themselves answering more difficult questions in the wake of growing numbers of assaults on campus.

Student Tour Guides Field Difficult Questions

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ATHENS, Ohio – This spike in the number of sexual assaults on campus is causing parents of prospective students to ask more tough questions – and the people on the front lines having to respond: student tour guides.

For many future students and their parents, taking a tour of the campus is helpful and fun. But this year the questions asked of student tour guides has shifted from classes and costs to on-campus safety.

Within the first few weeks of the fall semester, more than a dozen students reported being sexually assaulted with even more reported almost every week since.

The first face prospective students and their parents see is often a student tour guide. They knew they’d have to answer questions about campus safety.

Although they have different approaches to the questions of safety, they tell parents and students that Ohio University is a safe and healthy community. Sophomore tour guide Paige Kirby concludes her tours with the comforting phrase “Bobcats look out for Bobcats.”

A tour being shown around College Green
Prospective students and their parents on a tour outside of Shively Hall
Sophomore tour guide Paige Kirby conducting one of her tours on College Green
Sophomore tour guide Brad Walker giving a tour outside of Chubb Hall

Brad Walker, another sophomore tour guide like Kirby, goes out of his way to make sure that questions are addressed that need to be addressed, such as what the community has been doing about safety.

“I like to bring up the survivor advocacy groups, the group chat that’s been created like Safe Walk Home so that way students don’t have to walk home alone” he said.

Kirby, who said she loves Athens and the university, says Ohio University is “perfect in its own imperfect way” and makes a point of being honest with touring kids and parents – never sugar coating anything for them.

“It’s not perfect, but there are resources out there to kind of help with those imperfections” she said.

One of the resources Kirby refers to is the Ohio University Police Department housed in the first floor of one of the Scott Quad residence hall.

This residence hall is a tour stop and a good way to show possible incoming students and their parents where this resource is and “talk about safety, talk about the police department, talk about the different measurements within the place” Walker said.

Many tour guides emphasize the fact that Ohio University is no different than other similarly-sized schools in terms of threats.

“I don’t walk alone on campus, but I would never walk alone on any other campus” Kirby said.