Naming those tunes

Bells chime throughout campus at noon and 6 p.m. daily, playing two tunes that should sound common to all who hear them.

Most students should certainly be able to recognize the familiar tune of the GW fight song, but many students have trouble recognizing that the set of bell sounds are also GW’s alma mater.

Junior Ryan Wenstrup said she has never noticed that the alma mater or the fight song play on campus.

It always sounded like regular bells to me, Wenstrup said.

There is good reason why some students are left wondering what they just heard after the two-minute procession ends, according to GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. The bells’ unauthentic origins explain their unauthentic sound.

Trachtenberg said he set out to give GW something other universities had: bells.

I’ve been on other college campuses where it’s been done, Trachtenberg said. A lot of universities have bell towers and play fight songs or some university-related music.

But he said he was reluctant to build a tower with real bells and pay a bell-ringer to play them twice a day.

I wasn’t about to build a bell tower so I asked myself, `how do I achieve the end without actually having to construct a tower and hire a bell-ringer?’ Trachtenberg said.

The answer was a loudspeaker and a tape recording of the two GW tunes broadcast from, ironically enough, Bell Hall, at 2029 G Street.

Trachtenberg initiated the ringing of the bells on graduation day last May. The song played every hour on the hour that day, and now plays only twice daily. Reaction to the new sound on campus is mixed.

Freshman Liz Bartolomeo said the bells are interesting, but it took her a while to realize it was the fight song.

It makes me feel as if I am at some farm school in Pennsylvania, Bartolomeo said.

Senior Kelly West said she was oblivious that the bells actually played a tune, thinking that they were just keeping time.

It’s my last year, West said. I should know what the fight song is.

Sophomore John Hirsch is not quite sold on the idea of fake bells.

If they were real chiming bells it’d be cool, Hirsch said. If it weren’t these computerized bells.

Regardless of student reaction to the ringing of the bells, they will continue to resonate on campus. Perhaps students will sing along to their fight song once they realize what they are hearing.

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