For Whom The Bell Tolls
Bells signify events. They always have. Throughout history, bells have rung for noteworthy occasions like weddings and wars, and for other more practical reasons, like signifying the time.
FGCU has one of these bells, but in the age of technology, in which people, quite literally, hold easy access to communication, time, events and weather in the palm of their hands, why is there is a bell at all? For whom does this bell toll?
Emma Goldman, an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship major, said she wasn’t sure. “The bell is so obnoxious. It goes off at the most terrible times. I’ll be on the phone, walking, and it interrupts me, and it feels like it goes off for five minutes,” Goldman said. “What does it do? I don’t even know.”
However, some students find the bell helpful in keeping track of the time. Allan Martin, an FGCU student, said he thinks the bell should ring more often, to help him keep track of time without having to look at his phone. Caitlyn Pleasants, an accounting major, said she also fi nds the bell helpful in her day-to-day activities at the university.
“I actually think it’s useful because a lot of my classes start exactly at 9 or exactly at 10,” Pleasants said. “So it honestly helps me personally keep track of if it’s the half hour or if it’s the full hour.”
On the other hand, some students, like Madison Fluharty, a resort and hospitality major, said the bell has little impact on their university experiences.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know there was a bell,” Fluharty said. “I’ve never even heard it.”
The bell itself was donated in 2002 as part of a gift from the Sugden family, according to Dr. J Michael Rollo, Vice President of the Division of Student Affairs.
Rollo said that the bell’s primary purpose is to tell the time, but that it also signifies the status of higher learning. He said that his alma mater University of Florida, also has a bell situated prominently on campus. While UF’s Century Tower features 61 bells, FGCU’s clock tower uses a computer system that plays the bell sequence through speakers.
During the Fall 2017 semester, there was a time when the tower would play the entirety of FGCU’s fight song, “Where Our Wings Will Take Us” at noon every day for about a month, according to Rollo.
Pleasants noted that she likes the idea of promoting school spirit by playing the fight song, words and all, but that the song itself needed to be louder.
“I just wish they wouldn’t play the full song at noon, because personally I don’t even hear the lyrics. But for the sake of school spirit, it’s very cool,” she said.
So, the bell is mostly there to keep the time, but for some students, like sophomore Ryan Smith, it sets the scene of a true university experience.
“I’ve always just liked bells, but growing up I always envisioned the deep tolling of a bell as I walked between classes at a university, but the bell does much more than that,” Smith said. “It’s can hear across campus that kind of unites us all.”