Fountain construction on the Jay: Learning to love the ‘62 alumni gift

Some students have objected to the new JAYWalk fountain because there was a lack of information and consultation; because it impedes the traffic flow; because it creates a safety risk; because it attracts mischief; because the money for it should have gone to higher-priority items; and because it wastes water when we should be saving and stretching our natural resources.
It’s great that OWU students feel a sense of ownership and care about the campus enough to engage in a passionate public debate.
An open discussion about the pros and cons of an issue can lead to an even better final product, as is the case here.
I think we can all agree by now that there were plenty of opportunities for people to weigh in, for example at the open WCSA forum that was held on Feb. 2.
As far as the traffic flow is concerned, I envision the fountain as a sort of roundabout. It may slow you down a tad, but essentially pedestrians and vehicles can move on quickly and efficiently without losing precious time.
Is the fountain a potential safety risk?
I overheard someone say that an intoxicated student might inadvertently stumble into the water and drown. I pay close attention to safety issues of all sorts, but in all my life I have never heard of a single case where someone fell into a shallow fountain and drowned.
If anything, the cold water will wake you up. You are more likely to drown in your own bathtub at home.
Yes, the new fountain is likely to attract some mischief until its novelty wears off. You won’t get any ideas for misbehavior from me, but occasionally the water may need to be replaced.
I am sure Public Safety will patrol the new fountain to ensure that it does not get abused or damaged.
By the way, if someone decides to dip their bare feet into the water on a hot summer day or if once in a while a dog jumps in to cool off, that does not constitute misbehavior in my book.
Water is supposed to be touched, experienced, and used and not merely admired from a distance. I hope PS will be reasonable in their interpretation of rules.
Could the money for the fountain have been used for more pressing issues? Perhaps. But do keep in mind that the expense for the fountain (under $100,000) does not come from your tuition money or from OWU’s operating budget. It is a generous gift from the Class of 1962 in celebration of their fiftieth anniversary.
Alumni prefer to fund tangible structures rather than invisible things such as underground pipes or student scholarships, and I cannot fault them for that.
Lastly, does the fountain waste too much water? In my opinion, it does not.
The circulating water is filtered and reused, and only a small amount is lost due to evaporation, spraying, or intentional splashing.
The new fountain will be beautiful and a welcome addition to OWU.
The final design (option G) blends vegetation and open water and provides plenty of seating opportunities on all four sides.
It looks fantastic. Once finished, it will quickly become the pulsating heart and center of Campus.
In Europe, where I grew up, fountains are ubiquitous and create popular gathering places for locals and visitors alike – a place where people casually congregate, sit, talk, read, or eat an ice cream cone.
There, fountains serve an important social function.
Water does have a magnetic effect on people because it resonates deeply with our innermost human nature. It also has calming, healing powers and provides a feeling of serenity and belonging. I am sure that once the fountain is completed students will accept and embrace it with heart and soul and wonder what life was like without it.
As far as I am concerned, I would like to see even more fountains on Campus – perhaps a smaller one outside the President’s office in University Hall or in front of Slocum?

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