I am a landlocked person. I have lived in the desert all my life, spending my time staring at saguaro cacti and cloudless skies. Thunderstorms were always an occasion for excitement, sending me scrambling outside to enjoy the rain. My mother called out after me with the admonition, “Don’t get struck by lightning!” as if there were specific strategies to avoid being fried by bolts of electricity (and indeed, apparently the safest position is to squat with one’s hands behind the knees, eyes staring directly at the ground).
For this reason I’ve always been fascinated by bodies of water, be it the ocean, a creek, or even the miserable man-made lakes that are a fixture of Arizona’s inexplicably numerous and verdant golf courses, despite the state’s condition of chronic drought. There was much fanfare surrounding the opening of the “Phoenix Waterfront,” which proudly occupied a position on the banks of a disgusting, yet necessary canal.
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My shift to the Northeast has been a welcome change from my desert roots, but Yale’s incredible architecture, gorgeous though it is, has failed to satisfy one of my most heartfelt desires — the longing to dip my toes into a stream and the wish to stare out across the sea. Though I realize that it’s unrealistic to move the campus onto the Atlantic shore, there are measures that can be taken in order to make our campus a more aqueous one. Yale has towers, courtyards, turrets, balconies, crenellations and ramparts, but it does not have fountains.
Wouldn’t the sight of Sterling Memorial Library from Cross Campus be enhanced by a haze of mist coming off the jet of a majestic fountain? On sunny days we could cool off by dipping our toes into a pool of water, or even by jumping right in on special occasions. We’d throw pennies in to wish for luck and love, and we’d still enjoy the relaxing sound of the water with our eyes closed.
The Women’s Table and the recently added “Morse Beach” are the closest pieces we have to an actual fountain, but I want more. I demand more. Give me a water feature that I can experience with all my senses, that is not switched off the majority of the time (Women‘s Table, I‘m looking at you).
Yale needs fountains. Tours would be more exciting, and initiations would be intensified with the prospect of potentially being thrown into a freezing pool of glorious water. Tour guides could come up with highfalutin crap about how it symbolizes the deep font of knowledge that all Yalies partake of. Yale is all about tradition, and fountains open up a whole new world of strange rituals which could potentially coalesce around a vibrant jet of H2O.
Some colleges have traditions like throwing people into fountains on their birthdays. While I realize our chilly climate makes this practice significantly less fun in certain months (read: hypothermia), aren’t most activities more enjoyable when there is a slight possibility of heading to Yale Health?
Though I don’t claim to speak for all desert people, I think that everyone would appreciate the addition of a fountain to our already beautiful campus. Yale is supposed to excel on all frontiers, and I’m disappointed that we’re behind on the water feature front.
With the advent of two new residential colleges (and Yale in Singapore? Whattt) I see a prime opportunity unfolding in front of us. Yale should lead the pack when it comes to ornamental aqueous structures, spearheading new innovations in fountain construction and design.
I’ll be the first one to jump in.