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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Filled fountain makes a splash with students, campus culture

Now that the Cullen Family Plaza Fountain and Reflecting Pool is back, a crucial part of campus culture has been restored to the University. Students can now experience it for themselves. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

The fountain is back at the University for the first time in several years and the journey to filling it as been a long and arduous one.

The Cullen Family Plaza fountain has been central to University of Houston culture since it was built in 1972. Ever since the fountain was drained in December 2014, it had rarely ever been filled. However, in the middle of spring break, the fountain was returned to its former glory and filled back up.

Back when the fountain was drained, it would only be filled for events like graduations or the GOP primary debate, and only temporarily. As soon as those events would come to an end, the fountain would get drained once again.

It was frustrating to see that practice: fixing up the campus to appear a certain way when there were high amounts of visitors or important people, but not for students’ sake.  

It must have been even worse for juniors or seniors who had gone to school with the fountain being perpetually empty.

As a freshman, I didn’t really understand why so many people were raising such a big stink about the fountain. It was just a fountain; it held water.

In fact, that topic was one of the very first articles I published for The Cougar in the spring of 2016 — a blistering piece telling students they needed to chill and worry about other things besides a bowl that was supposed to hold and shoot water up in the air.

I couldn’t understand why so many were up in arms about a body of water that, at the time, was not holding water.

After hanging out in the plaza on a rare day when it was filled, I suddenly understood the importance of it. Students were lounging around it doing a myriad of things.

Some sat in the sun, tanning. Others sat on benches reading books. A few even sat on the edge of the fountain with their toes in the water.

I realized that the fountain was one of the most important things on campus solely because of the way it drew students to it. Students went to the fountain to relax or get work done in a unique environment.

The sound of the fountains was loud enough to drown out the sounds of people in the vicinity holding conversations, but also redundant and gentle enough to tune out while studying. It was then that realized how neat of an experience it was to witness an important part of campus that my parents, who had gone to school here in the 80s, were also able to enjoy.

The fountain is something you can derive happiness from just by being around it, and it’s finally back and even better than before. LED lights have been installed under the jets of water so they’re illuminated during the night and even bounce light off of the adjacent Farish Hall. Now the fountain is a spectacle during the day as well as night.

It took the University a while to get it squared away, and the webpage dedicated to the fountain forecasted that repairs and maintenance would not be done until December 2017. Many students are thankful that is not the case.

I, along with the rest of the student body, am looking forward to future days at the fountain that will be spent under the sun — whether it’s socializing with friends, reading a good book or enjoying the weather while studying for a test.

Opinion editor Thomas Dwyer is a broadcast journalism sophomore and can be reached at [email protected].

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