USC Student Affairs has collaborated with student leaders across campus to propose Senior Run, an outdoor block party, in replacement of the annual senior fountain run.
For the past several years, seniors have participated in an unsanctioned tradition of jumping into every fountain on campus the Thursday before spring semester finals.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry said that in the past, communication between students and the Dept. of Public Safety and Student Affairs has been effective with regard to the logistics of the Fountain Run, considering the risky behavior that could be involved. Last year, however, proved differently.
According to Carry, twelve students were injured and six students were transported to the hospital for severe lacerations. The destruction of Youth Triumphant, the fountain near Alumni Park, accounted for the majority of the almost $50,000 the university incurred in property damages. Carry said the 2014 Fountain Run resulted in the most significant campus damage USC has ever seen.
“We have a couple thousand students that will come to campus [that night], some of them USC students and some of them from other universities who are coming here with nothing to lose. They’re coming here and saying, ‘Hey, the USC students don’t care about their campus, so we’ll help them destroy it.’ I don’t believe this is what Trojans think about their campus,” Carry said.
He also mentioned that the Fountain Run has become a serious health issue.
“When parents drop their students off the first thing I talk about is student safety and [student] health and wellness,” Carry said. “This is a critical public health issue for us.”
After evaluating the damage at the end of the spring semester, a multi-student governance group,which included members of Residential Student Government, the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, Undergraduate Student Government and Program Board, joined Student Affairs in dicussing a new tradition that would replace the Fountain Run.
Carry said that students were appalled by the facts presented. Some statistics included, “$6,582 in ambulance costs (2014)” and “73 medical calls over the last five years.”
After some student leaders became aware of the scope of the damage, they began working on creating the new tradition, Senior Run.
Carry said that Student Affairs hopes the Senior Run will be a safe and enjoyable alternative to Fountain Run.
“Senior Run is great big outdoor block party where seniors get to have safe fun, and they’ve worked really hard,” Carry said. “They’re getting ready to graduate from USC, so they deserve this. We want this to be an opportunity for seniors to have a great time. But first and foremost, our two priorities are we want them to be safe, and we don’t need to destroy our home.”
At a SpeakSC Forum in January, USG President Rini Sampath, vice president of USG at the time, argued that taking away the senior tradition might result in problems.
“Cancellation of the fountain run might create an issue where students are organizing it for a day where DPS isn’t aware,” Sampath said.
Student leadership anticipates criticism from current seniors regarding the cancellation of the fountain run.
Ayesha Misra, a senior majoring in psychology, said she is disappointed by the fountain run cancellation but remains optimistic that the Senior Run will be a suitable replacement.
“It’s really unfair that the fountain run has been canceled this year because this is something our class has looking forward to getting to do for so long, and we’re no longer getting that chance,” Misra said. “If the block party has some kind of crazy fun activity that’s only unique to seniors, like the fountain run was, then that could work.”
USG is concerned about taking away the long-time tradition, but the focus is creating a new tradition that will be more attractive than jumping into fountains. Carry assured the student leaders that it is better for them to be the administration that starts a new tradition than continue one that is dangerous to students.
“There is risk in both sides, but the greater risk is the student administration that maintains a fountain run that ends up taking someone’s life. That is the greater risk, and it’s not worth it,” Carry said.