Wittenberg ’16 Reveals Surprising Etymology of Foss and WestCo

Daniel Wittenberg ’16, wise sage, fellow westcovian, and new freshman president of WestCo, shares with us the little-known but age-old story of how our beloved Foss Hill and West College inherited their names. Last Sunday, Daniel spontaneously wrote and sent this post to the WestCo listerv to encourage residents to attend one of the weekly Monday night meetings (formally known as “guidance”). I can safely assume that he wrote this tall tale as a way to impress upon Westcovians the importance of attending guidance and commemorating the “founding” of WestCo. Read his historical account below, and you’ll surely develop a new appreciation for the small hill and the system of glum-looking two-story buildings that we all take for granted.

One evening, late in September in the year 1420B.C., a young traveler with an unknown name came with weary feet upon a hill so perfectly sloped that he could not resist the temptation to sit and relax on it. He had traveled many miles to escape his community where a butt-chugging epidemic was running rampant, and so, despite the thriving community of ostriches that occupied the hill, the traveler decided that this was where he would rest for the night. He woke the next morning with the rays of the rising sun streaming into his eyes. It was a beautiful moment, and remained so until the traveler noticed the enormous pile of ostrich poop that had accumulated on top of him over the course of the night. He sprang up and shouted, “Fuckin’ ostriches!” Liking the way the two words rang out into the crisp dawn air, our wanderer decided that his discovery would come to be known as Fuckin’ Ostrich Hill (over time the original name was lost in translation, and “Fuckin Ostrich” became “Foss”).

He spent the rest of the day exploring the surrounding area. By the time he returned to the hill the sun was setting. The sun, the traveler thought, sets in the West. It was at this moment of profound realization that a brilliant idea popped into our young voyager’s mind. A dorm, consisting of four building units and a courtyard in the center, would be constructed on this hill, and its name would be West College, named after the general direction that the sun sets in. It would provide a home for all of the creative, non-mainstream and butt-chugging-opposing ancient people/creatures who needed a place to escape to. He quickly sent out an email to all of his friends around the world, inviting them to the opening ceremony of the college.

On October first, 1420 B.C. the people of the ancient world, including (but not limited to), Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Aztecs, Mayans, Mongolians and dinosaurs, came together at precisely 10:07 pm to congratulate our founder on his discovery and to discuss how West College would be run and what events would take place in the cafe that would later come to exist there. It was a joyous occasion and it is for that reason that we convene at 10:07 pm each Monday night in the WestCo Lounge in order to recognize the founding of our community.

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