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Students Petition to Restore Inverted Foundation for Graduation Tradition

The original version of this post contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the post for additional information.

[UPDATE: 2:26 p.m., Thursday, April 4. Facilities Management released a statement to Mojo saying that the fountain will be on for graduation. For more details, read our latest blog post.]

If you touch the Bruin Bear’s paw before an exam, it will bring you good luck. Skip the sixth step of Janns Steps or else you’ll have to enroll in an extra quarter of school. Most UCLA students are familiar with this kind of school spirit folklore, which is drummed into them during freshman orientation.

This year, construction may prevent graduating UCLA students from adhering to a school folklore that has been around for ages: the tradition of the Inverted Fountain (no, we’re not referring to the story about how it looks like a toilet… or how USC dyed the water red during rival week).

During summer orientation campus tours, many students are “bruintized” in the fountain. Soon-to-be Bruins lay on the edge of the fountain and dip their hands into the water, which they cannot touch again until they graduate. Legend has it you experience seven years of bad luck have to stay for an extra quarter if you break this rule. It’s a rite of passage revisited when newly graduated students get to frolick in the water, fully dressed in cap and gown and pose for photos.

But the Inverted Fountain is currently turned off, and may remain off for months after graduation, due to construction on the Ostin Music Center.

Signs earlier this year said the fountain would reopen in June, but the date has now been changed to a more vague “Summer 2013.” Mojo contacted UCLA media relations to find out why the date was changed and a representative is investigating the issue.

Arman Ghorbani, a fourth-year neuroscience student, said he noticed this date change as he was walking to class on Monday and decided to start a Change.org petition urging UCLA to “Preserve Tradition” and turn on the Inverted Fountain for graduation.

“When I saw it, I knew I wouldn’t be the only senior that would be upset,” Ghorbani said. “It’s a big part of UCLA tradition that we don’t want to lose.”

The petition, created on Monday night, has nearly 500 supporters as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

One student’s comment on the petition: “I’ve been looking forward to this day for three years, after watching my senior friends graduate as a freshman. I have plans to snorkel around the edge!”

While not every student is as zealous about their fountain plans, some said they are disappointed they won’t be able to take part in the tradition.

Jessica Smuckler, a fourth-year communication studies student who graduated winter quarter, already took a picture in the dry Inverted Fountain on her last day.

Smuckler said jumping in the Inverted Fountain was something that she had been looking forward to from the first time she got “Bruintized” at orientation.

“It’s definitely not as thrilling to jump into a dry fountain covered in caution tape and construction signs,” Smuckler said.

Ellen Tsai, a fourth-year film student who transferred to UCLA, said although transfer students do not touch the water on their first day, she knows of the story.

“That’s sad that it’s off,” Tsai, who did not know of the closure, said. “It’s tradition.”

Now that the fountain is off, Tsai said she does not feel as motivated to go take pictures in it at graduation.

Ghorbani said he hopes to garner 1000 signatures before asking the UCLA administration to pull construction and turn on the fountain just for graduation.

“I understand that it had to be shut down because of construction,” Ghorbani said. “But as UCLA students, we’ve endured a lot of construction and been very flexible with it.”

It’s unclear whether turning on the fountain, even for graduation, is feasible. UCLA has not officially responded to the petition and, as previously stated, UCLA media relations is looking into the matter.

If worse comes to worst, Ghorbani said he and his friends will still be taking their graduation pictures in the dry fountain.

“But there are still 11 weeks to graduation, and we’re going to keep pushing to get it on until then,” Ghorbani added.

Seniors, how do you feel about the Inverted Fountain closure? Will you be signing the petition? Tweet us @dbmojo or comment below.

Correction: At the time this post was written, it appeared that construction might prevent graduating students from touching the water in the inverted fountain.

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