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Public Safety breaks up WWS fountain party

Wilson School seniors celebrating the completion of their theses with a fountain swim and a bit of bubbly met with unexpected intervention by Public Safety officers last Thursday.

According to Marion Barker '98, the students gathered to relax in Scudder Plaza after their 5 p.m. thesis deadline, cheering each other, drinking champagne and "having a good time . . . we just wanted to be together."


Many seniors also took a dip in the fountain, a Wilson School tradition.

According to various students who were present at the informal celebration, about three Public Safety officers arrived around 5:10 and ordered the party to stop.

The proctors first confiscated all of the students' champagne bottles, Marshall Burkes '98 said, adding that the officers cited the seniors' violation of the University's open-container alcohol policy.


The officers then ordered the students out of the Wilson School fountain. "People got upset," Burkes said. "(We) more or less cooperated because everyone knows there are rules . . . but Public Safety has seen it happen before."

The proctors then ordered the seniors to clear the plaza, citing the "disturbance the situation caused," Burkes said.

Public Safety Crime Prevention Specialist Barry Weiser said the proctors were just enforcing existing rules. He said the Wilson School fountain is not intended for human swimming, citing various health concerns such as the many animals that wade in the pool, untreated water and the possibility for injury.


In addition, Weiser said that though most of the seniors were probably over 21 years old, the open-container alcohol policy stands.

"They were lucky," Weiser added, commenting that no arrests or reports were made. "There's not much you can do to seniors, I guess."

Though there is no specific rule allowing the proctors to clear the plaza, Weiser said that "(the officers) were probably busy and didn't want them to get back in the water. Thursday is our busiest night."

Mixed signals

Several students did note that the Wilson School administration is aware of the yearly celebration. "We got an email from the department's secretary saying that the fountain was going to be filled for Thursday and that everything would be arranged and ready," Barker said.

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"It seemed like a stupid use of power," Barker said, adding that, if the traditional plaza party is banned, "it's unfortunate that the department doesn't have a sanctioned party for us."

Still, in typically diplomatic fashion, the students acquiesced to Public Safety's wishes.

Nevertheless, students were not so willing to let the celebration stop. Evan Fieldston '98 said, "A couple people ran after (the bottles of champagne) to get them out of the garbage can."