Fountain flap: FSU discourages longstanding tradition at Westcott

Florida State University is discouraging students from taking part in a decades-long campus tradition: Throwing people into the Westcott Fountain to celebrate m
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 4:14 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida State University is discouraging students from taking part in a decades-long campus tradition: Throwing people into Westcott Fountain to celebrate major events. The move is generating passionate pushback from students and alumni.

A moment shared by students for decades getting wet at Westcott.

“This is an important tradition for FSU students. It’s something that thousands of students have gotten to experience as well,” said FSU student Carly Wilt.

Florida State Alum Lis Agius was on a campus tour with her daughter reminiscing on her time spent at Westcott.

“It was something that everybody expected to do at one point or another when they were here as a student,” said alumna Lisa Agius.

Agius said she’s sad her life-long memories may not be not be carried on with her daughter.

“The traditions are important and I feel like that would be something that she wasn’t able to participate in, it would be kind of sad. I would like to see it continue,” Agius said.

A sign now installed at the historic fountain has a note prohibiting what’s become a rite of passage for generations of FSU students.

“In an effort to ensure safety, preserve our heritage, and maintain our historical landmarks, FSU explicitly prohibits anyone from entering the fountain or putting any item or substance into the Westcott Fountain,” reads the sign. A spokesperson for the university says the new policy is meant to keep people safe and maintain the fountain’s structural integrity.

Many students frolic in the fountain to mark their 21st birthdays and graduation. FSU alums say students are not officially a ‘Nole until they’ve been tossed into the fountain. They are disappointed in the move and calling on the university to change course.

An online petition hoping to persuade FSU to lift the restriction has more than 1,200 signatures.

Several students WCTV spoke with said the new sign will not stop them from carrying out the tradition.

FSU student Carly Wilt said she’s thought about the Westcott tradition since starting school at the university.

“I turn 21 in a couple of years. I’m 19 still. So, I was definitely looking forward to it. I’ve watched my sister get thrown in, I’ve watched all my friends get thrown in who turn 21, but I have not yet had that opportunity,” Wilt said.

A tradition FSU student, Allison Ziller, won’t get the opportunity to have.

“I feel cheated out of it. They talk about it at orientation, on your groups about it, when you turn 21, you’ll get thrown into this fountain and I feel jipped out of that,” said FSU student Allison Ziller.

Ziller called on FSU president Richard McCullough to take action.

“I’d say President McCullough as you are not an FSU alum, I hope you just look at the precedent that other presidents that have allowed for this to happen and let people get thrown into the fountain,” Ziller said.

An FSU spokesperson said talk of the sign going up has been in the works for months. Well before new President Richard McCullough came on board in August.

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