Every year, students jump in Littlefield Fountain to pose for graduation pictures, some even decked out in their stoles and champagne in hand. Other mischievous students take a spontaneous dip in the middle of the night in hopes they don’t suffer the consequences.
Health and society sophomore Renee Alducin said she recently partook in the traditional fountain dip with friends to start the semester with an exciting experience. Once they saw a police car coming, several members of the group made a beeline towards the Tower.
She said a few friends stayed behind to talk to the officer.
“The officer didn’t even get out the car,” Alducin said. “He just sat there a couple minutes to make sure we weren’t coming back, then he left.”
Penalties for getting into the water include being subject to disciplinary action and a fine up to $200. While many students know fountain hopping is not permitted, it doesn’t stop them.
Since 1933, Littlefield Fountain has decorated 21st street, sitting directly in line with the UT Tower. Named for George W. Littlefield and originally dedicated as a memorial to honor Confederate war soldiers, the fountain is now an iconic spot for
Alducin said she recognized Littlefield Fountain as a beautiful campus landmark, and although it isn’t intended for students to swim in, her time jumping in the water was a bonding experience
“At first, we texted a bunch of people to have a water balloon fight at the Tower at midnight and after decided to hop in the fountain,” Alducin said. “We all lined up on the second tier of the fountain and jumped in to get our whole bodies wet. We took pictures, hung out and splashed around for a bit.”
Psychology and philosophy senior Michael Krol said he has never fountain hopped before because he considers it a rite of passage for graduation. But he said he isn’t concerned with getting in trouble with the University if he were take a dip next spring.
“I haven’t done it yet, because I am not graduating,” Krol said. “(If I were) it would probably be jumping in for graduation photos, but that is just me. The idea is pretty cool though.”
Despite the fact that students and Austin Monthly Magazine dub Littlefield Fountain as a bucket list item for many students, there are concerns for anyone who participates. The fountain lacks steps to enter and exit, and the area around the fountain and rock may be slippery, which puts students at risk for injury.
“The fountain is not a pool and contains hazards wherein someone could slip and hit his or her head,” John Salsman, director of the Environmental Health and Safety Department, said in an email. “In addition, the water in the fountain is not maintained to the same water quality standards as a pool, so the University cannot ensure the water is safe for human contact.”
In order to ensure the safety of students and protect property, Regents’ Rules and Regulations Rule 80110 states it’s unlawful for any person to enter the water of any fountain not designed for “recreational or therapeutic purposes” controlled by the UT System or institutions unless they have prior written permission.
Despite Alducin and her friends getting caught, Alducin said it was definitely worth the experience and memories she made.
“The fountain is a Texas landmark, something everyone walks by every day,” Alducin said. “But it’s a big thing and it makes you feel a part of something bigger than yourself and it really solidifies your relationship to Austin and UT. Jumping in the fountain makes you feel like you’re not just a student, you’re a Longhorn.”