The Westcott Fountain has been a staple at Florida State University since it was gifted by the classes of 1915 and 1917 back when FSU was known instead as the Florida State College for Women. The original fountain structure failed midway through 1988, but the fountain that is well-beloved now is an exact replica of the one that was given in honor of professors Anna Forbes Liddell and Robert O. Lawton.
More famously, the fountain is known to be a 21st birthday ritual for students. As the clock strikes midnight on a student’s birthday, they will gather with their friends outside the Westcott building waiting for the clock to hit 12 a.m. so they can get thrown in. A bottle of champagne is popped, along with completing either a run or swim around the fountain.
Legacy Walk FSU states that “this [Westcott throw-in] has been a long-standing tradition at Florida State University, and it has been said that you are not truly a Florida State Seminole until you have been thrown into the Westcott Fountain.”
Very recently, the fountain had been closed off due to maintenance issues in late March or early April. The official @FloridaStateUniversity Instagram posted a statement on March 30 that reads, “Westcott Fountain will be temporarily dry for a few days as the university makes some unexpected but necessary repairs… We expect to complete all repairs and have our beautiful fountain and plaza back in service before the April 6 Class Ring Ceremony. We’ll keep you updated as the work progresses and will do everything possible to minimize disruption to campus and visitors. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we thank you for your patience and understanding.”
Within a week following there was a new sign posted at Westcott Fountain which reads, “In an effort to ensure safety, preserve, our heritage and maintain our historical landmark, FSU explicitly prohibits anyone from entering the fountain or putting any items or substances in the Westcott Fountain.”
FSU PD is patrolling the area to ensure the sign is enforced. Students have instead been utilizing both the fountain by Langford Green and Doak Stadium as well as the Landis Fountain for their birthday rituals. A symbol of Florida State University and a rite of passage tradition has been halted, and there have been no other comments besides the posted signage. President McCullough has yet to release an official ban or state outright consequences for trespassers. Many students have voiced their opinions about the act.
For many of these students, the Westcott Fountain is a milestone at the end of a tour, something spoken about at orientation or they have watched their friends and/or siblings get thrown in. There is a larger history to this fountain, some of which includes current students’ present. It was something they have looked forward to since arriving at Florida State University. Westcott Fountain was a gift to the college, turned ritual, turned symbol, and then made a historic landmark.