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The Blue & Gray Press | October 18, 2018

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Susannigans: You Can Ring My Bell

SUSANNAH CLARK

“There were bells, on a hill, but I never heard them ringing…”
I hate to quote “The Music Man,” but seriously, here we have this flashy new bell tower on campus, and its glorious ringing is seldom to be heard. We’ve been back at school for over a month, and I’ve heard the “Westminster Chimes” no more than three times. I live in Bushnell Hall; the tower is literally 20 feet from my window.
The bell is as dead as Downtown Fredericksburg at 9 p.m. Must I turn to the Taco Bell on Route 1 to meet my ring-expectations?
The “Centennial Campanile,” which graced the cover of UMW’s special centennial advertising supplement in the Free Lance Star, was erected last May.
Who could forget the fond memories of last year’s construction process? The tower was scheduled to be finished in January, we got five extra months of waking up to 8 a.m. jackhammers!
Living in Mason Hall last year, bell tower construction was the bane of my academic and nap-time existence—especially the day when they decided to test the bells every 20 minutes.
Those days are gone. Now my ears are lucky to be graced with chimes once a week.
I was horrified during Parents’ Weekend, as my father and I sat on the benches at 5 p.m. sharp to hear a musical confirmation of the time, to no avail. Our Southern Bell was silent. Is my in-state tuition really paying for these false hopes of tunefulness?
Apparently, the bells are supposed to go off twice a day, once at noon and once at 6 p.m. Why the discrimination against other times of the day?
We already stole the bell’s tune from Big Ben; we might as well use their ringing schedule too—once an hour, on the hour.
Aesthetically, the bell tower can be deemed a success. An easy landmark for a meeting-place, the bell tower is also a lovely nook for studying and at times a haven for private cell-phone conversations. The adjacent mini-fountain has already accumulated hundreds of wishing pennies.
This is a start. Like several other aspects of this college, the bell tower is a great idea that’s almost there. Why limit ourselves with two chimes a day? What is going to wake Brother John when there are no morning bells?
Maybe when the Bicentennial rolls around in 2108, UMW will have a scandal-free President, Seaco will be edible, students will have an abundance of parking spaces, and the bell tower will ring on the hour.
Hopefully, with advances in modern medicine, I’ll be there; with bells on.