The return of the listicle: Ranking ten of Vassar’s water fountains

Madi Donat/The Miscellany News.

And so I return! It has been a while since I last ranked aspects of this beautiful campus. And what better a comeback than to definitively order the locations from which to be gifted the lifeblood of all of us humans? Thus, here is my opinion on the best, and the worst, of water fountains at Vassar. While my rankings are, as always, indisputable fact, I must provide a small caveat. Though I am well into my fourth and final year at this lovely institution, I can’t say I’ve drank from each and every water fountain that Vassar has to offer. So I will simply be listing 10 of the fountains which I deem worthy of discussion, as filtered (hah) through my personal experience. It also must be noted that a lot of these water sources will be judged by their temperature. For me, the ideal temperature is what is scientifically referred to as “ice fucking cold.” I’m talking 32.00001 degrees Fahrenheit. So cold it hurts your whole mouth. The haters out there will argue that cold water is bad for your teeth (true), is bad for your voice (true) and makes you much more prone to the ever-unpleasant brain freeze (also true). To them, however, I say: Ice water is my little treat. I deserve a little treat, and I get to make the rules. Cold water = best water. Let’s go.


  1. Skinner fourth floor

That’s right; we’re starting from the bottom. If you’ve not yet had the harrowing journey of trying to get water from this fourth floor monstrosity, I envy you. Skinner technically has water fountains on every floor, but the validity of this one gets less and less credible by the day. Not only is this water fountain befuddlingly freestanding (as in, it’s an actual water fountain with a pump and a spout and stuff, but it’s just kind of a column that gets plugged into the wall), it also only sometimes works, and the temperature is consistently a tossup. And, of course, the most egregious thing about this “water fountain” (if you can even call it that) is its ire. This thing will spray water on you with reckless abandon! If you want to get a little drink, a little sip, before your class in Thekla, to hydrate since you’ve obviously just walked up four incredibly steep flights of stairs because our elevator is still touch-and-go, and you’re scared you’re gonna get stuck in it, you will inevitably walk in with just enough water on your pants to make everyone in the class think that maybe you peed yourself. This water fountain is evil, and I would campaign for its removal, but we in the Department already have so little; I can’t imagine this being taken from us, too.


  1. College Center Retreat side

The question I have for you is this: Do you even know what or where these are? If you answered anything other than, “Yes, definitely,” you will understand why these water fountains are placed so low on this list, only slightly above the aforementioned bane of my existence. The thing about these water fountains (yes, somehow there are two of them) is that most of the time they don’t even work. The times they do, however, are nothing to be excited about. These water fountains are so sad and dismal with their water quality that it makes me feel sorry for them. I am a really big empath, especially when it comes to water fountains, so this is actually pretty hard for me to talk about. But I’ll brave it for the mere reason of me saving you a miserable trip to fill up your water bottle, which for the record doesn’t even fit under the stupid spout. A word to the wise: If you’re trapped in College Center and need water, choose anyplace but these. Other options are available to you. I promise, this is not all there is. And who knows, maybe they’ll just break permanently so no one will be subjected to their terror again. 


Madi Donat/The Miscellany News.
  1. The Bridge

An unfortunately low placement coming from a building with so much in its favor! The Bridge, the newest entrant into Vassar’s quirky cast of buildings, has failed me only once, and it is with this water fountain. Those who constructed it tried really, really hard to make it good, even going so far as to provide an extra little spigot specifically for water bottle filling-up. Their kindness aside, this water fountain is pretty bad. The flow rate is poor, the temperature is lackluster, and the spigot really just reminds me of being at the dentist’s office and having to spit bloody saliva into their weird porcelain sinks. Why not just use the other water bottle spouts with the little sensor and the clicker that 100 percent just lies to you about how many plastic bottles it has saved? Are you not supposed to be an eco-friendly building? How can we purport to love our women (et al) in STEM if we won’t even provide them the decency of a nice water-bottle-filler-upper? I don’t think that can be correct. We should campaign for a better water fountain in the Bridge, considering nothing else on this campus needs fixing.


  1. Lathrop second floor

My time in Lathrop was incredibly well-spent, and I look back on those years fondly, thanks in no small part to the proximity of this water fountain to my various rooms. I lived on the second floor for three years, and I can say for certain that this little water fountain got me through the ups and downs of those times. I have fond memories of refilling my Brita at one in the morning instead of doing my homework. Despite my nostalgia, however, this water isn’t actually that good. It never tasted quite right, and I felt like the Brita was the only thing keeping me from unknown troubles in the future. Also, its location remains baffling. Lathrop has only two water fountains, and they are located way on the South side, one on the first floor and one on the second. The vast majority of Lathrop’s inhabitants live on the third and fourth floors, so really it’s all messed up and turned around. This second-floor water fountain may have been in somewhat close proximity to me, but that is where its benefits tended to end. It was right next to the bathroom, and, crucially, right next to a giant garbage can that was always, always overflowing, so that corner of hallway never ceased to smell like the most awful mix of weed and old ketchup packets. Lathrop was kind to me, and this water fountain was a part of that, but that doesn’t mean it was very good.


  1. Deece water dispensers

Let me get one thing straight: This is NOT referring to the soda fountains. (Those will come later.) These are the little black and silver dispensers by Your Kitchen and Global, which claim to have the choice between room temperature and cold water but in reality only have the choice between warm and lukewarm water. Temperature is very important to me, as stated above, and I will not tolerate being lied to about how cold my water is. If you are showing me a snowflake, I am expecting the liquid therein to feel like a snowflake! Is that too much to ask? It’s also so low on this list because so many better water vessels are right there at our disposal. I’d even take the large, hotel-style carafes located by Oasis and Kosher, which aren’t even insulated and sometimes contain mystery produce sliced up for our tasting pleasure. Strawberry water? Sure. Cucumber water? Maybe. Cantaloupe water? Absolutely not. The Deece is a beacon of endless sustenance, and its vast array of choices have spoiled me into detesting these water dispensers. I encourage you all to invest in some self-respect and just go to the soda fountain.


  1. College Center Express side

Now we are approaching the respectable, upstanding, dignified citizens of Waterville. This water fountain, with its approachable sensor and spout, has never ceased to provide me with a perfectly acceptable, okay-tasting bottle of the stuff. If I’m ever in a pinch and can’t get to my top choices of fountains in time, I will never be upset about getting some swigs from here. One thing that does knock it down quite a bit, however, is the fact that for a while, it wasn’t really working. They may have replaced it for all I know, but those days of not being certain of the utility of this, Vassar’s most okay-est water fountain, were very scary to me indeed. Now I rest easy knowing that it is viable, but that also takes some of the excitement out of it, you know? Consistent and not great is always less fun than inconsistent and not great. Maybe I just have a weird thing about that, I don’t know. Don’t psychoanalyze me about my water fountain opinions. Regardless, this one is perfectly alright. And only alright.


  1. Chapel basement

This one is a little bit of a secret. Technically, there is no water fountain in the Chapel. If you were to ask me if there was one, I would probably tell you there isn’t. You can refill your water bottle in the bathroom sink and think about your sins. But, in all technicality, one does exist. It is behind a locked door to which few have the key, and it’s not fantastic (it’s one of those break room-style ones that doesn’t plug in, it just has the replaceable giant water bottle that you have to cautiously flip over and trust that you won’t flood the place), but it’s worth it for the secrecy. I’ve taken people there for solace from the heat various times, and it’s always cool and calm down there, except for the bugs and maybe also the mold. It also tastes pretty good, mostly because it’s already been pre-filtered by Dasani or whatever. What more can I say; this water fountain is one of the many awesome perks of my on-campus job working for the choirs. If you are my boss and you are reading this, please know I love my job, and I am sorry I abused my power to show other people this water fountain. Please do not fire me. 


  1. Express/Retreat soda fountains

I’m counting these two together because they live together in my mind. The Retreat soda fountain is lovely, but it’s always stressful in there because there isn’t much room. Also, sometimes the flavor is a little weird. Express, on the other hand, has amazing ice, on the off chance that the ice is actually working that day, but doesn’t always have the best water. It’s always a tossup. That said, I really enjoy the temperature of all soda fountain waters, and it goes without saying that any place I can get ice with my water is an immediate win. I just wish they had a better track record is all. But again, I can’t emphasize enough how important the temperature is to these guys. It’s so important. The ice is so cold. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. I told you I was an empath for water fountains. I hope they can feel my joy as I feel theirs. Wow. How lucky I am to be so close to these beacons of hydration, and how lucky you are to be reading about my opinions on them. 


  1. Skinner second floor

This is some real water, folks! Talk about quality: good temperature, good mouthfeel, good location; it has it all. Every time I’m in Skinner, I know this fountain has my back. Now, it isn’t perfect: It’s definitely old, so it can look a little concerningly crusty at times. It also is pretty short and stout, so you can’t always fit your bottle under without some expert maneuvering. The taste all but makes up for it, though. It also helps that I’m in Skinner every day, so I always have the opportunity to be hydrated from this device. It’s also quite enigmatic to me, mostly because every other water fountain in the building is pretty weird and gross, including the one in the staff copy room (yeah I’ve drank from the Skinner copy room water fountain… don’t be too jealous). I don’t know what they did to this one to make it so good when compared to the sub-par-ness of all of the others. Perhaps this water fountain made a deal with the Devil to ensure it reigned supreme over all others. Maybe there is some sort of water fountain feud happening that I am not privy to. Regardless of the reason, please know that this water fountain is great, and if you’re in the neighborhood, I’d definitely give it a try. 


  1. Deece soda fountains

We all knew this was going to be the winner (I hope). There is absolutely nothing wrong with these, except for maybe the fact that everyone knows they’re the best, so there’s always a line for them. These soda fountains provide nothing but the most beautiful, clean, cold, supple water for us, and we do nothing to thank them for their service. Maybe I’m crazy, but I feel as though I was put on this earth to experience the joy and ecstasy that is Deece Water. This whole article was written as an ode to Deece Water. Eric Feeney, if you’re reading this, know that anything else in the Deece can turn upside down, and I will be fine as long as I have my Deece Water! The satisfying clink of ice cubes in my metal water bottle does nothing for me unless I know for a fact they came out of the soda fountain by the dish return (and the one by Global is nice, too, but the dish return is obviously superior). No water can touch Deece Water, on this campus or elsewhere. It is everything. It is magical. I hope to become good enough to finally deserve it. Until then, I will simply keep relishing in its goodness for as long as I am on this campus, and spreading its gospel to everyone I meet.

Madi Donat/The Miscellany News.

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