Students share memories of Risman fountain in light of slated demolition

Denise Wright

For some passersby, it may be just another campus structure. But for the 2,180 members of the “Kent State’s Fountain should stay!” Facebook group, the fountain at Risman Plaza represents more.

For Josh Davis, the group’s creator and a third-year political science major, the fountain was his “first positive impression of the Kent campus.”

“When I came here as a freshman, I was intimidated by the giant buildings and the size of the campus,” Davis said. “I’m from a small town where our biggest building was a couple stories . The fountain was something I liked; it was kind of comforting.”

Victoria Kloos, sophomore biology and pre-med major, said she formed her first impression of the fountain at the PASS program she attended as a high school senior.

“I walked through the plaza to go into the Student Center, and as my parents and I passed by it, I can remember saying to my father that it was very pretty,” Kloos said. “My PASS day was in February, and I still thought the fountain was beautiful – even without water flowing through it.”

And while some may have shared their first fountain experience with their parents, for others like Andrea Whaley, her parents are the reason she became acquainted with it in the first place.

When Whaley was younger, both of her parents worked at the university. The freshman biology and pre-med major said her mom would take her by the fountain when they went down to The Hub for food.

“I used to always get change from her and make wishes on coins and throw them in the fountain,” Whaley said. “I still do it, and I’m convinced that doing it as long as I have has made things come true.”

Aside from granting wishes, Whaley said she enjoys the fountain because of the comfort she finds in it. She became animated as she described how the bubble-filled fountain saved a bad day she was having earlier this semester.

“I was walking back from Eastway, and I saw that it got soaped,” she said. “My friend and I were having the best time throwing bubbles in the air and at each other. It was ridiculous.”

Whaley added that the fountain also has a great calming element, too. She said on warm days it’s the best place to sit and think or have conversations.

Freshman biotechnology major Colton Cantrell wrote on the Facebook group’s board that the fountain is a place where anyone can go hang to hang out, jam on some instruments and – above all – relax.

“The fountain adds a certain serenity to the campus,” he wrote.

Even though Cantrell is a freshman he knows the fountain is one of the “mainstays of the campus.”

“It was one of the things that actually attracted me to Kent State,” he said. “It’s a beautiful centerpiece to the campus itself that makes the Student Center that much more enjoyable.”

Contact features reporter Denise Wright at [email protected].

What’s to come

For fans of the fountain, the time left to enjoy it may be limited.

Revitalization of the plaza – including the deconstruction of the fountain – is slated to begin early next spring.

For some students, that’s OK.

Gwen Hipolit, junior fashion merchandising major, and Zach Repphun, junior architecture major, said although they’ve both enjoyed climbing on the fountain, they wouldn’t be upset if it was taken out.

“It sucks that is has to go, but at the same time, maybe we’ll get something better,” Hipolit said.

Repphun agreed, adding that it should be replaced with something interactive that students can appreciate just as much.

Laurena Schultz, a 1981 graduate, said she thinks the removal of the fountain could take away an experience for new or incoming students.

“My son just started college this year at Kent, and I would hate for him not to get to enjoy the fountain,” she said.

The fountain has made for memorable experiences for some past and presents students. For the members of “Kent State’s Fountain should stay!” it’s not time for the fountain to come down and those memories to be put to an end.

When Josh Davis created the Facebook group, he knew it was a common interest, but it surprised him that the group has taken on so many members.

“It moved a lot quicker than I expected,” Davis said. “I wasn’t anticipating so much support so early.”

Davis said the administrators of the group are looking to meet soon to coordinate efforts. So far, individual members have been working on editorials and talking to officials on campus. Davis said his goals are to generate more student awareness and then use the awareness to present to President Lester Lefton informed reasons why the fountain should stay.

Davis and Kloos agreed that a compromise could probably be made between concerned students and administrators.

“The fountain is one of the appealing features of the plaza and creates a comforting feeling there. I agree that all the concrete is bland, but don’t take out the one thing that is right in Risman plaza,” Kloos said. “I understand that renovating the plaza seems to be a concern for President Lefton; but quite honestly, I believe that the plaza can be renovated around the fountain that the students have come to know and love.”