The University of Maryland has secured funding to pay tour guides starting this fall, according to an email obtained by The Diamondback that was sent Wednesday night to Maryland Images.

Maryland Images, the student-led organization that provides campus tours, will shift from its current model as a volunteer organization to a student employee structure, Shannon Gundy, this university’s assistant vice president for enrollment management, said in the message.

The announcement comes after Maryland Images members sent a letter to university administrators last week demanding to be paid $15 per hour, this university’s minimum wage, for their work.

The organization’s letter stated that tour guides would not run campus tours starting Friday if administrators did not acknowledge their demands by Thursday.

This university’s next admitted student open house is scheduled for Monday.

[UMD tour guides demand hourly wages from university administration]

Hannah Wahlberg, a senior communication major and Maryland Images’ tours coordinator, said she was pleased with this university’s response.

“They had always said that they were not resistant to paying us, and that they wanted to partner with us,” Wahlberg said. “But this brought a little bit more of the urgency and more concrete stuff that we have been asking for.”

In the email sent Wednesday, Gundy acknowledged Maryland Images’ demand to retain all current tour guides and said the university looks “forward to further discussions on this point.”

Paying student tour guides has “numerous benefits,” Gundy wrote in the email. The shift will help recruit and retain a diverse student body, she emphasized.

[UMD president Darryll Pines gives updates on campus facilities plan in State of the Campus address]

Campus tour guides not being paid has led to underrepresentation of certain student groups in the organization, Maryland Images members told The Diamondback last week.

In February, this university’s Student Government Association passed a bill supporting pay for campus tour guides.

Tour guides do not plan to strike as long as the university upholds this commitment, Wahlberg said. Maryland Images will continue with unpaid tours this semester because it knows members will be paid in the fall, she said.

Maryland Images will submit a proposal to administrators this week detailing how the new pay structure could work for campus tour guides.

Lindsey Parker, Maryland Images’ operations coordinator, said the group’s structure could see some “significant changes” in transitioning to a student employee model.

The biggest change would be that major decisions would have to be approved by a faculty adviser, Parker said.

The social aspect of the organization will also likely change, Parker said.

“Right now, we have requirements outside of giving tours to remain a member of the organization, like social events and DEI events, and the requirements of those would likely change,” Parker said. “We don’t anticipate that people would have less social opportunities, they might just be less structured.”