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Students Daniel Schofield-Bodt (right) and Jordan Jones provide an alternative view of the Harvard experience as leaders of ‘‘The Hahvahd Tour.’’ The tour guides do not charge fees, but say they take in about $2,000 a week in tips.
Students Daniel Schofield-Bodt (right) and Jordan Jones provide an alternative view of the Harvard experience as leaders of ‘‘The Hahvahd Tour.’’ The tour guides do not charge fees, but say they take in about $2,000 a week in tips. (William Moore for the Boston Globe)

A Harvard tour goes beyond the brochure

CAMBRIDGE -- Surrounded by rows of oak trees in the freshly cut green of Harvard Yard, Jordan Jones gestured to the brick walls and remarked on the architectural styles as any good university tour guide would.

Then, he deviated into a spiel no good university tour guide would.

On the eve of winter finals during his freshman year, he said, he stepped outside in his bathrobe, let out a ferocious yell, and stripped, joining roughly 1,000 naked classmates as they shouted and darted across Harvard Yard.

``That's right, Harvard students streak and scream," said Jones, referring to ``The Primal Scream," an annual Harvard tradition in which students can vent their frustration before final exams.

Jones is co-leader of a new tourist attraction in Cambridge -- ``The Hahvahd Tour," in which historical tidbits about America's oldest college are laced with puns, references to drinking, and campy stories of food fights. It is an unofficial Harvard tour, created by Jones and Daniel Schofield-Bodt , who lead their customers from Harvard Square through Harvard Yard to buildings on the outer edges of campus, and back.

The pair, both of whom are 21 and will be seniors in the fall, hawk their services with ``Hahvahd Tour" signs and shouts of ``Join us," attracting a mix of khaki-clad tourists and prospective students and parents for their 90-minute journeys . They offer three a day, and draw their biggest crowds -- roughly 100 per tour -- on weekends.

Jones, a Texas native, and Schofield-Bodt, who is from Connecticut, call their enterprise the ``Hahvahd" tour because university officials told them they could not use the university name.

The tour guides, who accept tips rather than charge fees because they're not an official business, seem to be prospering after almost two months in operation. They compete with the authorized Harvard tour, which focuses on historical facts and is also given by students -- for free. Jones and Schofield-Bodt say they make about $2,000 a week in tips.

Their venture , advertised on signs in Harvard Square and on their website, has earned praise from tourist websites for its humor and from local businesses for bringing more shoppers to the area.

``We want people to have a crazy time, a zany time," Jones said.

Earlier this week, Jones cheered when a customer told him she was from Athens, Ga.

``All right," he exclaimed, inviting a high-five . ``Another Southerner."

The students tell tourists that most of the buildings are named after college presidents, then segue into one of their favorite lines. Leonard Hoar , the third president of the college, has never been honored with a building in his name, Jones explained.

``To this day, there are still no Hoar houses on campus," Schofield-Bodt deadpanned as he stood in front of the bronze John Harvard statue yesterday, drawing chuckles.

The statue itself is known as ``The Statue of Three Lies," Jones joked, because first, it lists John Harvard as the school's founder ( he was the first major benefactor; the founder was the Massachusetts Bay Colony); second, it says Harvard was founded in 1638 (it is 1636). And third, said Jones, the strapping, handsome man preserved on the memorial is probably not John Harvard, who was sickly and frail.

As they stood on the gleaming marble floors of Memorial Hall, they recounted a story from the football rivalry between Harvard and Yale. During the guides' sophomore year, Yale students dressed up in Harvard colors -- crimson and black -- and handed out placards to Harvard alumni and students during the annual game.

When alumni and students held up the cards, they spelled out, ``We suck," Jones recalled.

``It was one of the best pranks ever," he said.

And yet, even as they poke fun at their school, the students boast about it.

In the middle of the tour, Jones and Schofield-Bodt stood in front of the Science Center, which Harvard students regard as the ugliest building on campus because it looks like a distorted concrete box. They began listing Harvard's rankings in the annual US News & World Report college rankings.

``The medical school," Jones shouted, gesturing in the air.

``Number one," Schofield-Bodt yelled, pounding a drum roll on the ``Hahvahd" sign he carried.

``The business school," Jones called out to peals of laughter.

``Number one," Schofield-Bodt repeated. ``Jordan, I think they are getting the pattern."

Judith Kidd, an associate dean of Harvard College, went on the tour last month and thought it was fun.

``It's a bit more seat-of-the-pants," compared with other tours, she said.

The personal stories of campus life told during the tour made the college sound particularly appealing to the guides' youngest clientele.

Shahrzad Sadighin , 18, of New York City, dropped her jaw in shock yesterday when she heard that participation in The Primal Scream was co-ed.

``That's awesome," she said.

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