Fountain Tradition

Almost every University of Southern California student knows that in order for seniors to graduate they must run through every fountain on campus right before they take their spring senior finals. Neither my informant nor I know the origins of how this tradition started. Pretty much every one hears about this tradition when they tour the school or become a student. I have heard the story from multiple different places. My friend told me that recently administration is trying to stop this tradition. She elaborated, “last year they put fences around all of the fountains two weeks before finals. The ‘official’ story was that the fountains were under repair before graduation. The year before that they drained the fountains claiming that they were trying to conserve water during the drought. But I heard that a few students fell during a fountain run one year so the administration wants to stop kids from doing it to avoid a lawsuit. They try to beat around the bush when it comes to addressing the issue. I wish they would stop and just let seniors have this one thing.”


My friend is a computer science major. As part of the computer science community she collects and forwards a myriad of folklore specific to this unique group. Computer science folklore is unique and reflects the beliefs and the culture of the group. Per my informant, as well as personal experience, computer science majors have a unique sense of humor that develops from the difficult coursework, the long hours spent on the computer coding, and the group dynamic required to get through the major. This humor is often expressed through memes and jokes only members of this group can understand and appreciate.


I understand the university’s need to keep students safe. I feel like they could be more understanding and ingenious about how they solve this problem. Clearly this tradition is very important to students. Instead of just shutting it down the university should find ways to allow the students to participate safely. In addition, the university is full of intelligent students who are more than capable of figuring out ways around these barriers. I have yet to see what they come up with, but I am sure that if the tradition is important enough they will find a way.