by Ben Richman
[originally published 11/15/19]
Is there a water fountain on the first floor of Wilder? It’s the question on everyone's mind. A question that the deans and administrators I contacted refused to answer. A question that, in academia, is the second most-cited example of the Mandela Effect. I took it upon myself to weigh both possibilities and set aside my own personal biases in order to get to the bottom of this tangled web of mystery. Unfortunately, I have a lot on my plate right now, meaning I was not very able to go to the first floor of Wilder to check it out for myself. Thus, this titillating mystery has been left wide open. However, I have constructed two arguments that, respectively, confirm and deny the fountain’s existence.
Point: I’m like 95% sure there is.
The first student I talked to was a very hydrated looking fourth year whose name I immediately forgot. When asked about the subject they said “Yeah! I definitely used it once my freshman year like before splitchers I think.” When asked where on the first floor, they responded(in between gulps of water), “Like by the wall.” I could see that this was a dead end. A few other students had similarly distant memories about a water fountain in Wilder, yet none could place exactly where it was located. I, too, faintly remembered drinking water on the first floor--I could picture myself, as in a dream, slurping lukewarm water in earshot of the Wilder desk (RIP). Was my mind playing tricks on me? I could swear there was a water fountain by the first floor bathroom that is connected to that hallway with the good selfie mirror. I mean most bathrooms have water fountains...why would this one be the exception? If people’s gut reaction is that there is a water fountain, who are we to question that? What makes us, mere mortals, capable of discerning what is objective truth?
Counter Point: No, I think there isn’t one
“I have never seen a water fountain on the first floor of Wilder and I have a meeting in Wilder 115 every day,” A blonde editor of the Grape who preferred to remain anonymous said to me. Other students corroborated his story, saying things like “There just isn’t a water fountain there. Like it's not that hard to find out, just go and look.” or “Hey! Stop knocking on the bathroom door! Like I said before, someone’s in here!” Still, it seemed there was more to this case than met the eye. How could I trust my now hundreds of sources when I had a general gut feeling they were wrong?
The investigation raised more questions than it answered. What is the nature of memory? Is there such a thing as objective truth? How do I book a room in Wilder? Maybe I had been looking at the story all wrong. Maybe it's okay that there is no answer. It is the ambiguity of life that truly reflects its beauty. Though we’ll never know the answer to this plaguing question, I can at least rest easy knowing that I did my job as a journalist and finished my article on time.