Sure, applications to Stanford have been up—way up—in recent years. But the school has also become a tourism hot spot. Visitors from around the globe have flocked to campus in record numbers, bringing with them headaches in traffic, parking and tour group management.
“There definitely has been a steady increase in visitor volume to campus over the last five years,” says DJ Dull-MacKenzie, ’88, the university’s director of visitor relations. Registered tour participants alone topped 99,000 in 2014-15, up from roughly 58,000 in 2009-10.
At first the university focused on quelling issues with tour buses clogging the Oval and causing bottlenecks on roads. It diverted bus traffic, instituted parking fees and built a new restroom and picnic area for tourists on Lasuen Street. Then it turned its attention to more unruly problems: visitors peering through windows on the Main Quad while classes are in session, talking and snapping photos, or wandering into faculty offices and classrooms. For now, faculty and staff in the buildings are responsible for asking offenders to leave.
In addition, for-profit tour groups were snapping up spots in the coveted campus information sessions meant for applicants. The university has since created policies that make it easier for the visitor’s center to say no to such groups.