Every once in a while, the fountain in the quad at Troy University gets filled with foam. For many, this can be an entertaining visual, a change from the normal look of campus. For others, it might just be a simple and harmless prank. For the campus grounds crew, however, this is an unnecessary hassle that costs time, effort and money – and it is vandalism.
According to a student at Troy who chose to remain anonymous, students usually pour some kind of detergent — dish soap in this case — into the fountain when the campus police are not around.
Pranks like this can come from independent groups of students or from various student organizations. According to the same source, sometimes foaming the fountain is a part of fraternity pledging, so prospective fraternity members would have to take part in this activity to be a member.
According to Bronson Terry, the maintenance manager at Physical Plant, cleaning up the foam interferes with the grounds crew’s regular work.
The grounds crew, under the Physical Plant, is responsible for maintaining the campus grounds.
“Anytime there is vandalism like this, it affects what we have to do,” Terry said. “We have to stop what we’re doing, and there are parts of the campus where we can’t do what needs to be done.”
The cleaning task involves pouring a de-foaming chemical into the water in stages until the foam is eliminated. It is a time-consuming task that can take anywhere from one to four days.
“This last incident took us three days to fully clean it up and several hundred dollars’ worth of chemicals to clean the water,” Terry said.
What students usually do not think about is the damage their pranks might cause to the fountain. According to Terry, often the pipes and flutes in the fountain that jet the water up get damaged or broken in the process of students foaming the fountain.
“Sometimes when the parts are damaged, we have to order parts, which can take several more days,” Terry said.
Physical Plant urges students to act responsibly and not engage in vandalism of any kind.