What Is Going on with the Tarble Bells?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Swarthmore students were welcomed back to campus in late August by friendly RAs, helpful faculty advisors, and by the regular ringing of the Upper Tarble bells. Yet, these bells which regimented life at Swarthmore in distinct quarter-hour increments have faded quickly as the semester progressed.

According to the Director of Maintenance, Ralph Thayer, the Tarble bells “should ring on the quarter hour and the hour, seven days a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.,” stopping only, “in the wee hours, in deference of sleepers.” Apart from allowing tired Swarthmore students some rest, the bells would cease only in the case of an outdoor event which would be disrupted by the noise.

Mr. Thayer revealed that the irregularity in ringing can be sometimes attributed to small technical glitches caused, for example, by high winds. “In deference of sleepers,” or not, the Tarble bells ring haven’t been heard much recently. When contacted a few weeks ago, Mr. Thayer acknowledged that the bells were not ringing. It is unclear whether an attempt has been made to fix the unpredictable nature of Swarthmore’s most prominent time-keepers. As of yet, there has been no reinstatement of a regular pattern.

Want the Tarble Bells back? Have more questions? Ralph Thayer can be reached at rthayer1 [at] swarthmore [dot] edu. Want to ask the Gazette something? Try dailygazette [at] swarthmore [dot] edu.

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