To Put It Bluntly, No More Tours In Willets


Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

In the wake of alleged complaints about Willets residence hall from visitors, tour guides are no longer allowed to show Willets dorm rooms as part of Swarthmore campus tours. Associate Director for Admissions Communications Tara Eames implemented this recent change and broke the news to tour guides during their fall training session.

The school administration has not clarified the reason behind the restriction, but according to tour guide Jordan Reyes ‘19, Eames said that parents complained of getting a “contact high” from walking through Willets. Eames, however, gave a different explanation for excluding Willets from tours: time constraints that limit visitors to certain residence halls only.

“Dwell, Parrish, and Wharton are close enough to the rest of the tour route to complete the tour on time, while [Willets] would extend the tour beyond the time that is promised to our visitors,” Eames wrote in an email.

To be clear, the admissions office has previously discouraged guides from showing Willets, but this year’s training made that a firm injunction not to, according to tour guides.

Instead of going to Willets, tour guides are now instructed to gather visitors in Wharton Courtyard when discussing student residential life. Dormitories such as Alice Paul, David Kemp, and Mary Lyon, among many others, are also unavailable for touring. The emphasized restriction against Willets, however, came as “shocking news” to Reyes.

Although it is unclear who made the direct restriction against Willets, some tour guides are upset by the change.

“I hate not being able to show my room, because it really means a lot to the students to get to see it, but I do understand the risks that come with bringing prospective families to an unpredictable environment like that,” Nathalie Baer-Chan ‘19 wrote in an email.

Other tour guides are unhappy with the attempt to hide what they say is an integral part of the Swarthmore experience.

As one tour guide wrote in an email, “Over a quarter of the first year class now lives in Willets every year, so what are we saying if we can’t show prospective students the dorm with the highest population of first years?”

Photography by Kyra Moed ’20/The Daily Gazette

Correction 9/14 11:30 a.m: this article originally had Nathalie Baer-Chan’s name misspelled. It has since been edited. We apologize for the error.

Clarification 9/14 1:22 p.m: The article now makes it clear that showing Willets was discouraged before. What has changed is the firmness of the restriction against Willets.

Correction 9/16 12:56 p.m: The article originally stated that the announcement was made during the summer training session. It was actually the fall training session.


  1. Bruh. Last year, the exact same restrictions on showing dorms were in place. This is not a new change whatsoever. Sure, Tara told us that parents had complained about the smell of weed in willets in years past, but this was by no means a recent change.

    Would it be nice if every tour guide could show their room? Yes. Is it feasible on an hour long tour? Nope. Tara just gave another (not very convincing) reason for students to not show rooms in Willets, but the first and main reason remains logistics, and it has been so for at least two years.

    • This is, in fact, a new change. I know it’s always been iffy to take people to Willets, but last year the policy was pretty much something like, “use your discretion and take them there if you have time/think it’s a good idea.” However, during this meeting, one of the head tour guides was in the middle of reiterating that policy (the “use your discretion” one) when Tara interjected and basically said that the policy is now a hard Absolutely Not. She proceeded to say that it was because of parents complaining about “contact highs” and detailed how it’s embarrassing to receive those types of phone calls and complaints. It was actually a really uncomfortable meeting, and it was clear that she was laying down new ground rules.

      Natalie Flores ’19
      Head News Editor

  2. Attempting to hide a part of the school from students is just in poor taste. They, and their parents, should know what they are getting into by choosing Swarthmore.

  3. Willets is a miserable, noisy, smelly, outdated, ungodly hot, hellhole of a pit, but that’s exactly why prospective students should tour it. They might be unlucky enough to get stuck there. My freshman year was a miserable hell of constant overheating and being woken up at ungodly times by some asshole pulling the fire alarm, even multiple times in one night. Prospective students deserve to know this.

    • There are varying usages, but the administration seems to have settled on “Dwell.” Since they will outlast us students, I’d say that pretty much seals the fate of the name.

      Co-Editor in Chief

        • People most commonly refer to it as “Danawell”, or some form containing “Connector”, but I’ve only heard about twice the latter and never the former. My take is that people treat administration’s “Dwell” phrase as an abbreviation or short-hand notation, or something to that effect.

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