Located next to the Biddle Hotel front desk inside the Indiana Memorial Union, the IU Visitor Information Center provides information and assistance to visitors to the IU campus.
Whether it's giving tips on where to eat in Bloomington or providing campus tours to prospective students or returning alumni, the center serves a wide range of visitors at IU.
The center has a director, Nicole Griffin, and is staffed almost entirely by IU undergraduate and graduate students, according to its website.
To learn more about the center and its services, the Indiana Daily Student spoke with three students who work at the center as visitor guides: seniors Isabella Gutierrez and Christian Shoulders, along with recent IU graduate Zahra Naderi.
Q: What is an average day like for you?
Naderi - A: We get a lot of questions about where people should eat, on campus or off campus, so we’re able to answer questions about whether you’re looking for on campus, because the close ones are, like, Mother Bear's and places on 10th Street, but then we can recommend all the restaurants on Kirkwood that are family-friendly or Fourth Street, like the ethnic restaurants.
Gutierrez - A: I would say people come and ask what spots they should see, too, so if they want to go out and do a self-guided tour, they can come in and we can show them the tour that we take. Then, basically just show them the popular spots on campus.
Q: What is a tour like?
Shoulders - A: For a general tour, we walk past Ballantine Hall, up toward the library, then we kind of loop around back to the Union. If it’s a smaller group of people like a family, and they want to see a specific place, then we’ll go there and we’ll go into a specific building.
Gutierrez - A: What I think is cool about the visitors center is that when we give our tours, we all kind of say different things. We’ll say basic facts and stuff like that, so they know the history, but then we get to add in stories or things that pertain to us. So each tour is kind of different and each tour guide is different in their way of talking about stuff, which is cool.
Q: Is there one thing high school kids and their parents will always ask about, information-wise?
Naderi - A: We always get a lot of questions about safety. We always try to reassure them since they get intimidated by the size of the campus and how many people that are here, we focus on reassuring them that we have campus safety escorts and the emergency phones that are around campus and the bus service that is really reliable. So I would say safety is a common parent question. It’s nice that they can trust us since we were actually students here.
Q: What would you want a visitor to know about this center and the services it provides?
Shoulders - A: Pretty much any question they have, we have the answer or we have a brochure that has the answer.
Naderi - A: We have a diverse set of people who work here, with a diverse set of experiences, so everyone can recall on their own personal experiences and usually we can all come together to answer a question. Admissions focuses on high school students mostly, but we have a wide array of audiences from elementary school kids to alumni who graduated in the '70s, so we have a very wide audience we cater to. Anybody can come in here and ask for help.
Gutierrez - A: On our wall, we have a lot of pamphlets of different things all in one place, which is nice. We have information about the Farmers' Market or the opera, random things, a lot of things that people can do, too, both on campus and off. Literally, we can answer almost anything.
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