Fountain fractures feelings, fells first-years

Mist surrounds you and your chicken tenders as you walk out of the Grill, and out of the corner of your eye you see someone lose their balance. The misty rock fountain strikes again.

The rock fountain in the center of Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Plaza was built in 2013. The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation for Greater Greensboro donated funds for the project. The fountain is made from rocks collected locally and is modeled after a fountain at Harvard University.

“Ultimately, (the fountain) should be a student-centered experience,” said junior Najha Zigbi-Johnson. “Our voices shouldn’t be drowned out by the bureaucratic happenings that no one knows about because they’re so many people in between the students and the people who make the donations.”

Regardless of where donations came from, some students have a strong opinion on the fountain.

“Clearly, people are outraged at this fountain, not because it’s a fountain, but because there are so many other serious issues that are being overlooked,” said Zigbi-Johnson. “That needs to be addressed.”

Former College president Kent Chabotar, openly supported plans for building the fountain, which were originally proposed in 2005.

“I disagree (with) the concept of it,” senior Walid Musarsaa told The Guilfordian in a Facebook comment.

“It’s an imitation — a bad one — of a fountain they have at Harvard. I think there could have been more thought put into it, at least by including the community in the design aspect of it.”

Another concern students are voicing is about the fountain’s safety.

“I was walking a tour group near the fountain over the summer when there was that build-up of green sludge for three months and someone wanted to walk through and fell,” senior Julia Opaleski told The Guilfordian in a Facebook comment.

“It was awkward and they didn’t stay for their interview with an admission counselor. One bad experience can change everything.”

The fountain allows for access through the rocks but it often becomes slippery from the mist it produces and inclement weather, sometimes causing people to slip or fall, the consequences of which can be injuries big or small.

While many seem to take issue with the fountain, not everyone feels the same way.

“There is no harm, no foul, in that fountain,” senior Harrison Houlihan told The Guilfordian. “It was given to us.  No institutional money was spent on it. It harms nothing. It’s not a big issue. It’s a pretty little fountain.

“No one’s going to come here and be like, ‘I’m not going here because of that fountain,’ but some people might say, ‘Oh, that’s a pretty cool fountain,’ and that is the maximum impact it will ever have.”

The fact that the fountain was a gift to our campus toward its beautification appears to be a common reason why those in favor of the fountain feel the way they do.

“It was not Guilford that made the call to spend the money on the fountain, (but) we decided to welcome the idea with open arms,” Hali Kohls ’15, an Annual Giving associate, told The Guilfordian in a Facebook comment.

“It also makes our campus more attractive to prospective students. Yes, it isn’t the safest. But everyone should try walking next to it to catch the mist instead of through!”

At the center of most arguments against the fountain is not the fountain itself, but what using donor funds for campus beautification means for the school.

“I understand the argument that it was donor-funded and we can’t dictate how we spend restricted gifts,” Chelsea Yarlborough ‘15 told The Guilfordian in a personal Facebook message. “I do find it very telling of the donor culture at Guilford that the same time the fountain was constructed, the stairs were falling through in Bryan (Hall), which was also a donor funded building, as I understand it.”

Although seemingly benign, the misty rock fountain proves to be a controversial subject among the College’s students.

Many, although not all, seem to agree that the fountain itself is not an issue, but rather its presence on campus represents a larger lack of student input regarding allocation of donated funds.