The Fountain makes a splash at SMU

A fountain at SMU
One of SMU's iconic water features and the namesake for The Fountain. Photo credit: Sarah Bell

A new news source has entered the scene at SMU. The Fountain, which calls itself “SMU’s only source for serious news” is an online news site determined to bring students the latest in not only on-campus happenings, but news from around the world. But what makes this news source so different is that it is written completely as satire.

A similar concept to the popular online news source The Onion, The Fountain gently pokes fun at topics such as SMU students struggling to find test banks at jobs after graduating or a recent report on English professor’s farts becoming increasingly smellier.

But The Fountain’s editor-in-chief, who wishes to stay anonymous, said that “you’re getting the news, but you’re also getting a good laugh, and it might make you think about things from a different perspective.”

The communications major wished to stay anonymous because she does not want the attention to be on her. She wants The Fountain to be about SMU, and giving people a place to contribute their ideas, and not be about her identity.

She began The Fountain after visiting a friend who attends a university in California who started a similar website at her school.

The name The Fountain was chosen by the editor-in-chief for its simplicity and because it highlighted the “running joke of ‘how many fountains do we need’” on the SMU campus.

Currently SMU has at least seven fountains scattered across campus.

The Fountain was started on March 17, 2014 and since it’s start has gained almost 800 Facebook followers.

While this number is still small compared with the number of students at SMU, its popularity seems to have already risen past that of the Daily Campus. In fact, The Fountain receives almost double the online views with an average 15,000 views per week while The Daily Campus receives about 9,000 views.

“The only part of the Daily Campus I read is the opinion pieces,” says SMU junior and accounting major Joseph Magnuson, “and I don’t really agree with them.”

This seems to be the common consensus among students at SMU.

When SMU senior Taylor Henry was questioned about his reading preference he replied, “I only read the opinions.”

Henry, like others at SMU, prefers to get his news from The Fountain.

“I like satire,” says Henry, “I think satire requires a good understanding of the actual issue.”

With many SMU students choosing The Fountain over The Daily Campus, it may seem that the two new sources are competing. But The Daily Campus was far from the editor-in-chief’s mind.

She even stated, “I don’t read all of it. I don’t pick up paper copies unless I’m curious about the job section.”

But now that her website has gained more notoriety among students she has begun to use it as a reference for any on campus news she might have missed.

Anyone can contribute to The Fountain simply by submitting their satirical articles through The Fountain’s website. So far, every article that has been sent to The Fountain has been published, though the editor-in-chief says that they are only published after heavy editing.

With more and more students reading The Fountain there has been some expected backlash. One particular article that has caused quite a stir has been “Mustangs for Life end abortion forever with bracelets, arts and crafts.”

The comments under this particular article have been heated and even drawn in commentators from other Dallas universities, including UNT.

“The goal here isn’t to be offensive, or to make fun of anyone,” says the editor-in-chief. “But to pick up on the absurd elements of what goes on and exploit that.”

The editor-in-chief said she has been contacted on multiple occasions by students pleading for her to make her website “more offensive.”

SMU English professor Bruce Levy disagrees with this opinion.

“I think that sometimes undergraduate satire can be undergraduate-y and juvenile,” says Levy. “I think this is actually funnier.”

Levy also believes that this is a very healthy way of critiquing the dominant culture at SMU. He hopes for The Fountain to be a place for the counter-culture at SMU to express itself and become a sort of forum for like-minded students.

The recent article “Phi Delt Casino to draw top tier sorority pussy” stirred up some controversy as being too offensive. Others believe that The Fountain had every right to publish the article, as they quoted from the actual email that was sent to Phi Delta fraternity members.

The article discussed the new marketing proposal for the fraternity to draw the attention from women from certain sororities rather than others. The original email was posted on The Fountain and states in part: “Top two pussy pullers from each grade should be admins and invite all the hot girls.”

Levy believes that this could be perceived as offensive though he thinks the main problem lies elsewhere.

“YikYak is far more troubling and grotesque,” says Levy. “It suggests precisely the reason that we need The Fountain.”

Yik Yak is a new app that allows people to anonymously post statements that are grouped together by location. It was created with the intention to create a sort of local bulliten board, but quickly escalated into a forum of personal jabs, racist jokes and taunts towards Greek organizations.

So far The Fountain seems to not have garnered as much attention from faculty at SMU. However, with it’s witty content and new take on whats happening at SMU, it’s not long before it will start to catch on.

Sarah Bell is a senior and an anthropology major. She can be reached at sabell@smu.edu.

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