On the third episode of “Brendan’s Opinion,” Brendan Teehan (CAS ’25) discusses his viewpoint on the Georgetown University student tour guide society, Blue & Gray. In this podcast, Teehan walks through his application experience(s), advocates for tour guide compensation and, in Brendan fashion, begs to be accepted.
Brendan Teehan (BT): Hi, my name is Brendan, and if you sign off all of your emails with “Best,” you are part of the problem. This is “Brendan’s Opinion.”
BT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the third episode of Brendan’s Opinion. And the theme this week is professionalism, if you couldn’t tell from my scathing review in the introduction. And on the topic of professionalism, one of the most controversial and difficult conversations I’ve been having with myself recently is whether to apply to Blue & Gray a second time this semester. Now, I was rejected from Blue & Gray my first semester freshman year, and it really left a mark on me. I don’t think I’ve gotten over it. So I’ve been weighing whether or not it’s a good idea to try again with this very fraught organization.
I have a couple of reasons for applying in the first place. I mean, so many of my friends are already in it. And it’s also like a personal thing for me to show that I can actually speak in front of a crowd. But, the most important thing is that I promised my high school AP Gov teacher that I would give her and her students a tour of the campus when I was a senior because they’re coming for the inauguration. And basically, if I don’t do that, I feel like I’m letting her down. So shout out Ms. Stewart, I’m trying to do this for you.
But, while I was weighing whether or not I was going to go through the whole application process again, I decided to create a sort of pros and cons list to make sense of all of the arguments that were in my head. But while I was doing this, I realized that I was kind of creating a discourse around Blue & Gray that reminded me of a Hoya article that I’d seen from 2019. So this article was written by the Editorial Board, and its main thesis was that Blue & Gray should be compensated as an activity, rather than just a volunteer position. So I thought that I would share my personal list of pros and cons. And hopefully add to the ongoing argument about whether or not Blue & Gray is really worth it from a student perspective.
So I saw a lot of contradictions when I was comparing what’s good about this organization and what’s not so good. You, yes, get to learn about your school, but you also learn mostly about how corrupt and ill-prepared your school is to fit student needs. And even if you feel the need to raise these objections on a tour, you’re not allowed to critique the school as you see fit. What I mean by that is Blue & Gray gives students very specific language to use on its tours to ensure that, you know, no one’s feathers are ruffled, specifically the administration.
You also get access to a social group as part of Blue & Gray. But from what I’ve heard from current members, this social group has started to dwindle a little bit. And so this pretty famous perk of this organization may not have as much cachet as it used to. Yeah, you get to garner experience leading tours, but again, none of this work is compensated. It’s like getting one of those internships that says “You’re paid in experience.” You also have some autonomy within your tour group. You are the one who’s leading the group. But this organization is highly surveilled and policed by both administration and club leadership. So that autonomy gets put into question pretty often.
And so there are a couple issues that I wanted to focus on, specifically, within the realm of Blue & Gray. The first and the most obvious being that Georgetown does not compensate students for being tour guides. And I thought that this was crazy the first time I heard about it, because A) this is an activity that takes up valuable time. It’s not like it’s just something that you do once a week for an hour, you have to prepare for your tours, you have to go through extensive training to ensure that you’re giving prospective students the right information. And if students come from a background that requires them to work on campus, so that they can stay at Georgetown, this is not really a feasible activity. So as you can imagine what happens in this scenario, the people that are most inclined to join this organization are those who have the financial means to pick up an activity that does not compensate their work. And so, the people that are leading these tours are people from a specific socioeconomic background. And as you can imagine, this colors the way that they will perceive both prospective students and answer their questions about the financial feasibility of going to an elite institution like Georgetown.
But apart from financial necessity, it’s just simply crazy to accept this proposition to work to make the school look good, all the while not being paid for that work. I mean, it skews undergraduates’ understanding of their worth as young professionals, when one of their first positions on this campus is one in which they’re not remunerated for the amount of work that they do. Blue & Gray requires specialized knowledge. It requires extensive training and a wealth of interpersonal communication skills. And without Blue & Gray, sanctioned touring of this campus ceases to exist.
The university really has nowhere else to turn but to its students to fill this need. And so they’ve tried to kind of sell it as this organization that’s really selective and that creates communal bonds with other students, but I can’t help but see this as a way for the school to avoid acknowledging the fact that it refuses to pay these students. So I’m not saying that the current members of Blue & Gray should indefinitely stop giving tours until the university recognizes their worth. But I am saying that a large-scale strike is a possible response to this issue. Because who else is going to give the tours? Not John DeGioia.
And one of the arguments that I get most frustrated about is that only the most passionate about the school should be giving tours anyway, you know, the people that volunteer their time, should actually be giving these tours because they’re going to present the “best foot forward,” per se, version of Georgetown University. But my question is, how are students going to feel grateful or passionate about this institution and the opportunities it provides if these opportunities are non-compensated, if the expectation at this university is that you should love this school, even when it doesn’t give you the pay that you are worth?
There’s also that social component argument that I mentioned earlier, which I have a couple of responses to. One, you can hang out with people without working together. Like, I don’t know if Georgetown students don’t realize that you can form a social group without making it pre-professional. But please keep that in mind.
And like second of all, most Blue & Gray functions are pretty much open to the public. So if you really, really want to hang out with this group of people, you don’t even necessarily have to do the work. You just have like, an added $10 to your fee for Stonewallers if you want to go to Abigail’s with them. And finally, what are people celebrating together? Being exploited? I mean, if you are surrounded by all of these people who, similar to you, do their job for free, I don’t know how well you’re going to be able to oontz-oontz together if you know what I mean.
So all of that being said, if any members of the Blue & Gray recruitment board are listening, I am so excited for my second-round interview, and I can’t wait to present to you my mock tour this weekend! Nothing but love for one of the most important clubs on campus.
And if anyone comes on here and says that I’m just being salty that I wasn’t let in the first time, how dare you accuse me of something that’s absolutely true. With that being said, that’s all for this week. Thank you for tuning in, and I will see you within the next two weeks with another installment of “Brendan’s Opinion.”
BT: This podcast was hosted by your favorite Blue & Gray hopeful Brendan Teehan, it was edited by David Yang, and it was produced by Amna Shamim. Thank you to The Hoya for again giving me this platform to speak my truth, and I will see you next week for another episode of “Brendan’s Opinion.”
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