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Breakdown of Bell Timer Remains Unexplained

After six weeks of silence from Storke Tower, technicians have yet to find the source of the malfunction that caused the bells to ring once per second for almost an hour on Oct. 9.

On Oct. 9, the bells rang about once per second from 7:50 p.m. to 8:47 p.m. Following complaints regarding the excessive ringing, UCSB Facilities Management shut off the bells. Currently, the problem causing the malfunctioning timer remains unknown, but the age of the system – at over 10 years old – is potentially a factor. Furthermore, Facilities Management cannot reactivate the bells at this time, because Physical Facilities West Campus Area Manager Bob Wright is on vacation until Monday.

According to Physical Facilities Senior Craft Lead Maurice Startzman, the malfunctioning timer was shipped to its manufacturer, the Verdin Company, which is based in Ohio. However, following tests, the manufacturer found no apparent reason for the breakdown.

“We shipped [the timer] over to Verdin and they benchmarked it for 10 days, but they could not find a problem with it,” Startzman said. “They shipped it back to us, and we have been benchmarking it for the past three weeks, and still could not replicate the malfunction.”

Despite the absence of the hourly ringing, third-year psychology major Joanne Caritan said she can manage the absence of the campanile’s hourly ringing fairly well.

“I never really needed it to tell the time because I always carry my phone,” Caritan said.

However, the Storke Tower hourly chimes have been missed from some aspects of student life. During Isla Vista’s Halloween celebration, a zombie flash mob took place on Del Playa Drive. Caritan, a participant in the zombie flash mob, said the flash mob was supposed to occur at the stroke of midnight, but since the campanile was out of commission during the time, the zombies needed to find another way to organize themselves.

“We were suppose to start at the stroke of midnight,” she said. “But since Storke Tower was not ringing, a few of us had to yell ‘Dong!’ 12 times in order to start us all off.”

The Storke Tower bells were dedicated Sept. 28, 1969. Through a system created by professor Carl Zytowski of the Music Dept., the bells spell out the University motto, “Let There Be Light,” at 10 minutes to the hour and play “Westminster Quarters” on the hour. The bells are also played live every Sunday, which does not require a timer.

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