There's just 20 minutes left. It's quarter of, and — finally — 10 'til. But the minutes keep dragging on. Time is up. Make it stop.
Students waiting anxiously to get out of the 9 a.m. economics lecture may have been struck by the sound of silence this semester. The bell atop University Hall, meant to sound at the beginning and end of every class period, did not ring until Monday morning, according to Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for facilities management.
Maiorisi wrote in an e-mail Saturday to The Herald that he was not aware the bell was not working. He confirmed early Monday morning that the bell had not been operating up to that point this semester and that it would be turned on. Since Monday, the bell has resumed ringing to signal the start and end of classes.
"I'm surprised that we hadn't gotten a call earlier than now to let us know they weren't working," he told The Herald.
He said the bell had not broken, but the electrical shop, a division within the Department of Facilities Management, had forgotten to switch them back on at the start of the spring semester. The bell must be programmed manually to turn on and off.
Maiorisi said the electrical shop employs about 20 staffers, who are "extremely busy" filling several work orders a day. Power outages in several dormitories at the beginning of the semester may be the reason the shop forgot about the bell, he said.
"Because they were busy with that emergency, maybe it just slipped their minds," he said.
Facilities has arranged for the electrical shop to receive an automated reminder from the work order management system so they do not have to "rely on their memory" to remember to switch on the bell.
Kathleen Furtado, an executive assistant who works at University Hall, said she did not notice the bell had not been ringing.
"It goes to show we're creatures of habit," said Martha Newbury, executive assistant to the dean of the faculty, adding that she likes the bell because it makes "you feel on campus." After they ring, she said she sees students crossing the Main Green and rushing to the Blue Room to beat the sandwich line.
"I haven't heard them for a while. I miss them," said Gwynne Evans-Lomayesva '11, a resident of Slater Hall, of the bell's peals. "They let me know when to go to class. Everything works better with them." She added that the bell lets professors know when to start and stop classes.
But Mark Blyth, professor of political science, said he had never heard the bell ring between classes. "Which bells?" he asked.