Opinions, Column

Saved by the Bell, or Not

The doors swung shut and the Newton bus finally jolted forward, having idled outside of Stuart Dining Hall for far too long. Sitting in the vehicle, I possessed an air of anxiety while remaining visually calm. Just 15 minutes prior, I was motionless in a faraway world of dreams. Since then, however, a mixture of panic and haste ensured my swift mobilization toward my economics test on Main Campus.

I tried to remember what subject matter I had spent the previous night so wrapped up in—something that was probably to blame for my late wake-up. Something about “fixed costs” or “variable costs” or one of the many economic costs. “Opportunity cost” seemed relevant, but I couldn’t focus on it. Each traffic light the bus passed incited another fear-inducing few seconds before the short-lived relief of the bus’ acceleration.

With six minutes until 9 a.m., Newton Campus’ rectangular metal box crawled down Commonwealth Avenue—rounding the final bend to Boston College’s Main Campus with the urgency of a sloth.

As the first onto the sidewalk, I set the pace, graceful as an Olympic race walker. My target was McGuinn 121. Yet, as I raced past Gasson, my eardrums filled with the striking reverberations of Gasson Tower’s four brass bells: Ignatius, Xavier, Gonzaga, and Berchmans.

It’s over, I thought to myself.

But it was not. One look at my phone gave me renewed hope. It read: 8:58 a.m. Two minutes later, as 9 a.m. truly arrived, I found myself seated in the classroom just in time for the start of my economics test. 

Since their installation in 1913, “from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the [Gasson] bells would announce each quarter of the hour, and every 60 minutes they would toll the exact hour.” These bells would announce the time in a manual fashion for roughly 50 years before the bells eventually went automatic in the ’60s, according to University Historian Thomas H. O’Connor.

As far as I can tell, sometime between the Hunchback of Gasson Hall and the high-tech, MIT startup–esque system BC has running the automated bells now, someone f––ked up.

I may not know the specifics of how the machinery or software or whatnot works, but what I do know is the Gasson bells ring approximately 1 minute and 30 seconds before they should. It occurs on the quarter-hour marks and the hourly chime. 

But who cares? Right?

Well, I do. And you should too.

In addition to the copious work BC students do on a daily basis, we students are faced with countless decisions and plagued by resulting mental fatigue every hour. Most would think choosing between chicken or steak is insignificant. But, the seemingly minuscule decisions we make can become tiring.

Mental fatigue is often an outcome of too many decisions and other mentally straining daily moments. Consistency is a vital way to reduce this psychological exhaustion and improve mental health.

When I was in high school, I thought practicing a sport every day would negatively impact my academics, or at the very least not help them. Yet, during my soccer and baseball seasons, I actually improved my academics, despite having three-hour commitments for six days each week. Too much free time provides a plague of indecision. In my personal experience, the consistency of an athlete’s day demonstrates how a strict routine can provide an increase in productivity and mental stability. 

In a pressure cooker like BC, maintaining consistency and a healthy mind can make all the difference in one’s academic and social life. An inaccurate bell—even by just two minutes—can disrupt that consistency through its accidental deception. 

In the frigid, barren days of winter, it’s especially important to find consistency to maintain a rock-solid mental state. And maybe, just maybe, we can fix those damn bells.

December 30, 2022