Bibb Graves chimes ‘ring in’ the new semester

After over a decade of silence, the digital chime system sings again on UNA’s campus.

University officials decided to repair the chimes this semester to bring back another campus tradition, said Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields. The chimes have been ringing since Jan. 13 at 7 a.m.

“(The chimes) broke, and the university never fixed them,” Shields said. “They became sort of a forgotten thing.”

The chimes are set up to start ringing at 7 a.m. and to turn off at 10 p.m., Shields said. They chime on the hour, every hour and every half hour.

At noon, the chimes ring the hour and then play the Westminster Chimes, the same notes used on the clock in the University Church tower of St. Mary

Cambridge, England, he said.

The bells do not play throughout the evening and night so they do not prevent campus residents and those living close to UNA from sleeping.

“It’s not overly loud and it’s not an obnoxious thing, but if people are sleeping or you have young children (it could be),” he said.

Junior Chelsey Flurry said the chimes add another element of school pride to campus.

“We have a victory flame that burns, so why not add chimes?” she said. “(I think) it adds to the history of the university.

While the chimes are mostly used to tell time on campus, Shields said the university will use the chimes for other purposes, too.

Because the chimes are digital, not real bells, the system can broadcast other alert tones and information. Shields said the police department might utilize the system to broadcast alert tones in case of a campus emergency.

“Throughout the county, when there is a tornado warning, sirens go off all over the county,” Shields said. “If (the storm) is close to UNA and we think that we need to be taking extra precaution, we might set off a separate tone. When the tone goes off, people will know, ‘wow, it’s really close to UNA. We really need to do something.’”

Once the alert tone is picked, Shields said the university will probably do multiple tests to ensure the campus community can hear the tone clearly.

Besides emergency situations, the university can use the chimes to celebrate game days and holidays on campus.

Shields said the university might program a Christmas song to play at noon during the holiday season.

On Saturdays or game days, the chimes will play the UNA fight song set to bells. He said he also wants to incorporate the alma mater into the chime schedule.

“Once the alma mater is (recorded in bells), every day at 4:30 p.m., the alma mater will play,” he said.

While the system has the ability to play normal recorded music, only music set to bells will be played.

Shields said this is to maintain the integrity of the chimes, according to the university’s policy.