If there are any misgivings about spring having sprung, put them to rest, children. The best season of the year is in full bloom, complete with 80-degree weather at 9 a.m., allergies and runny noses, lots of drunkenly steered floaties in the ocean and shorts cut so short the inside of the pockets cover more than those butt-exposing hem lengths. The biggest indication of spring, of course, is the multitudes of excited, confused and bike path-ignorant tourists milling around campus.

We’ve got our prospective freshman and transfer students more dedicated to finding Del Playa than learning about GOLD. Looks like some of our future peers are gearing up to make some bad decisions before autumn — although many of us were fully engaged in intentionally isolating ourselves from campus and tracking down the worst decisions before our own Freshman Orientation even began. How many of those workshops does anyone go to?

There are entire confused-looking families exploring campus, busy managing too-young children unsteadily riding Razor scooters while oblivious to the fact their college-aged kid is hastily walking 20 steps ahead of their domestic mess. Worse yet are those same families when they decide to trek through Isla Vista. People visiting I.V. for the first time don’t often form the greatest first impressions, what with rows of red cups lined up in the yard. I shouldn’t feel guilty for being a college student in a college town, but anytime I wander by these unsuspecting, naïve families after having my 50 Club lemon drop for the day, my near-vestigial sense of decency suffers a tiny blow.

The groups of high school kids taking cheap field trips through the Rec Cen are cause for a little awkwardness. Really, what could be more unflattering than profusely sweating on the elliptical, while a bunch of judgmental 15-year olds walk by whispering? Sometimes I smile, but rarely do I get anything in return — except a bout of embarrassment reminiscent of middle school.

My favorite visitors, however, have always been the highly anime-nated Japanese tour groups. These tourist types hold a special, nostalgic chamber in my heart, since the last time I witnessed so many prepubescent girls sporting pleated, plaid mini-skirts, knee-length socks, shiny patent shoes and panda bear backpacks was during my grade-school obsession with the prettiest soldier ever, Sailor Moon.

Sometimes I see solo tourists on the self-guided, iPod tour casts of campus. Other times, hordes of people who missed out on student-led presentations of UCSB run around on the (surprisingly boring!) scavenger hunt offered on the school’s Web site. It claims the hunt is a “fun alternative when campus tours are not available.” But after reviewing some of the scavenger hunt “clues,” I wonder if people would be better just reading a UCSB manual. Who cares what building “you see directly across from the library when looking from the eighth floor towards the ocean”?

Are our tour groups really interested in how the bookstore organizes its textbooks? And why would anyone want to “pick a class and find out how many books a student would have to buy for the class and what the books would cost”? It seems like nothing more than an underhanded introduction to the ridiculous cost of textbooks.
What if our tour groups were exposed to the REAL UCSB? Instead of asking them to find out what we call the University Center for short, wouldn’t it be more informative to ask our visitors to guesstimate how many professors expect students to purchase a textbook’s latest version, despite the previous edition being half price? More importantly, shouldn’t we at least warn tour groups not to make direct eye contact with the evangelists staked out next to the Corner Store?

I say we present our tour groups with some real truthiness, in the style of YouTube’s “One Cop vs. 25 Stoners” video clip. If you haven’t looked it up, do so immediately, and then watch one more time, this time with the Benny Hill theme dubbed over the hijinks. Maybe we can entertain our tour groups as much as those 4/20 enthusiasts at Colorado’s Fort Lewis College amuse theirs. If anyone’s down, I’ve got a tarp.