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Nine tour guides resign after tour coordinator is demoted for Slack messages

Tour guides resigned via mass letter sent to Admissions Office leadership

Nine tour guides — seven seniors and two juniors — jointly resigned via a letter sent to Dean of Undergraduate Admission Logan Powell on Monday.

The resignation comes more than a week after a group of roughly three dozen tour guides, joined by 150 student supporters, picketed on Waterman Street in support of Janek Schaller ’24. Schaller was demoted from his position and later resigned in early February after sending a Slack message to staffers, which acknowledged plans from divestment demonstrators to disrupt tours and said he “cooperated with other organizers” to allow for “tour disruptions to happen in a safe and controlled manner.” 

Logan Powell, Brown’s associate provost for enrollment and dean of undergraduate admission, did not share whether the resignation would disrupt tours or whether the Admissions Office will hire new tour guides in response.

The letter cited Schaller’s demotion and the University’s subsequent communication to guides — which stated that “individualized negative experiences is not part of the mission or purpose of the tours” — as reasons for the resignation. 


The resignation letter cites a portion of the latter phrase, characterizing it as part of a “pattern of suppression” for tour guides. “A letter from the Office on February 23rd informed guides that ‘individualized negative experiences’ have no place on tours,” the letter reads.

Logan Powell, Brown’s associate provost for enrollment and dean of undergraduate admission, wrote in an email to The Herald that the students’ characterization of the statement was “inaccurate,” emphasizing the language used in the full quote. 

“No college is perfect, but our goal is to allow visitors to experience Brown on their own terms and to leave them with a positive impression of the many strengths of the Brown community,” he wrote. “Not only did we commit to clarifying the guidance in the meeting we held, we sent a follow up message that clearly states that we trust and empower all guides to share their authentic stories.”

“Most of the reasons the former guides articulated for their resignations are not related to the tour guide program, or to the Office of College Admission, in any way,” he added. “We are grateful for their work on behalf of our office and respect their decision to step away from their role as University representatives.”

The letter also mentions the University’s response to student demonstrations related to the war in Israel and Palestine, objecting to the arrest of 61 students that participated in sit-ins for divestment within University Hall.

Tour guides have been organizing since Schaller's resignation in early February, according to resigning tour guide Caroline Sassan ’24. Then, organizers were contemplating a mass resignation, but they opted to work toward a strike instead. The organizing tour guides decided to pivot from a strike to a rally less than an hour before it was announced at noon on March 8. 

According to resigned tour guide Shazain Ahmed Khan ’24, the signed tour guides were still “fed up” with the University’s administration. 

As one of the 41 students involved in the Brown Divestment Coalition who were arrested for demonstrating, Sassan added that it was “especially dissonant to be working for the University while they’re actively pressing charges against me.” 

The letter also included specific grievances with tour guiding, namely the lack of “codified protections for free speech on tours.” In an email titled “Tour Guidance & Performance Policy” sent to all active tour guides on Feb. 23, Admissions Office staff stated specific instructions for tour guides that included instructions not to “joke about a particular department, person or building on campus,” “joke about aspects of campus life that you may not be involved with,” “critique or call out a single member of the Brown community” or “comment in a critical manner on admission practices.” 

Grace Jarell ’24, one of the resigning tour guides, said these guidelines took “the humanity out of the tours.”


The admissions officers clarified their guidance in a follow-up email sent to active guides on March 14, instructing them to discuss their “authentic experiences in a way that places them in a broader context, highlights available resources and leaves visitors with a generally positive impression,” but the resigning tour guides were not satisfied with this response.

“The Office has resisted all attempts at true dialogue around the ways in which we are permitted to speak about our personal experiences,” the letter read. 

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Dana Richie

​​Dana Richie is a senior staff writer for Arts and Culture and the photo chief. She enjoys using multiple forms of media to capture peoples’ stories and quirks. In her free time, she loves knitting, learning about local history and playing ultimate frisbee.

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