Campanile revamped

Ross Boettcher

Iowa State has a number of landmarks that enrich the campus’ tradition and beauty. The most popular and well-known of these staples may be the Campanile.

As a monument that holds a steadfast position at the center of the ISU campus and is home to the Homecoming and Veishea tradition of Campaniling, changes to the Campanile are never taken lightly.

Currently, the Government of the Student Body is working in correlation with facilities planning and management to help make some elements of the traditional landmark more user friendly and cost effective. The largest of the proposed changes is to “digitize” the Campanile so campus groups and organizations aren’t charged unnecessarily for the switching off of the bells that ring every hour, on the hour.

GSB President Brian Phillips, senior in political science, said the changes are just in the preliminary stages, but the project will help eliminate unnecessary fees for campus groups and help make the Campanile more efficient to operate.

“I think if this project comes to fruition, it’s going to save us money in the long run, it’s going to save us resources at FP&M and it will save student groups money,” Phillips said. “I think it’s a positive step.”

Even though nothing is written in stone on the project, Phillips said he is optimistic about the outcome.

“I think the odds are pretty good that it could happen. We have the resources to make something like this happen,” Phillips said.

Robert Currie, assistant director of facilities services, is working closely with GSB to help digitize the clocks. While it may not seem like a big deal to most, the minimum $45-per-hour charge to have the chimes turned off during an event add up in steady increments during the school year. Outside of business hours, facilities planning and management is forced to charge student groups an additional fee because it has to pay its employees time-and-a-half for a minimum of three hours every time they’re called in to turn off the Campanile’s chimes.

“I think the project will be a great convenience,” Currie said. “It’s an inconvenience for our staff to come in after hours to come in – it pays good for them, but they have families and social lives, too.”

Although turning off the clock tower may seem simple, in reality, it could be much, much easier. Instead of having a facilities planning and management employee climb up the tower and manually turn off the quarter-hourly chimes, Currie said there are a couple of options that they are looking into.

“One of the options is we could just control the switch with a secondary time controller,” Currie said. “That will just be a matter of running a line from the Campanile back to the FP&M building.”

The second option is the one that Currie feels would work best.

“There may be software that we can interface with the Campanile that would allow us to plan ahead and schedule the controller ahead of time,” Currie said.

Since the project was just proposed by GSB two weeks ago, none of the financial information is currently available for the proposed changes to the Campanile.

Along with GSB and facilities planning and management, the ISU music department is also involved with the development of GSB’s proposed project. Although facilities planning and management is taking care of the business side of things, the music department is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Campanile.

The most notable of these operations is the 20-minute carillon concerts performed daily from 11:50 a.m. until 12:10 p.m. by Tin-Shi Tam, associate professor of music. Tam has been playing the carillon bells at Iowa State since 1994. She said even though changes may be beneficial, the tradition that lies within the music is the most important.

“One of the things that really drew me to Iowa State were the rich traditions of the alums and the people of Iowa State,” Tam said. “The bells and music of the Campanile tie into everyday campus life.”

Tam said she is glad to hear that new technologies are going to be applied along with the current webcasting of the daily concerts that help bring the traditions of the Campanile to alumni who aren’t able to hear her music.

“We’re using technologies of webcasting to carry on traditions to alums and people away from campus, which is a very encouraging thing,” Tam said. “Things would be much different if we didn’t have the Campanile and all of the tradition around it.”