When UC Berkeley students set their clocks back one hour for daylight savings Nov. 1, one famous Berkeley landmark lost track of time — the Campanile.
Also known as Sather Tower, the Campanile has been one of the distinguishing features of the UC Berkeley campus since the clock tower’s completion in 1915, and its bells can consistently be heard ringing on the hour, according to the website for the Campanile. After the time change, however, the bells now ring one hour ahead of the time indicated on the clock faces, meaning there is an extra ring every hour, according to campus junior Gabriel Kelvin.
“To me, it’s not like it’s a serious problem with our infrastructure or facilities,” Kelvin said. “It’s just really funny that we’re a very prestigious university, but sometimes small things like this can go through the cracks. I feel like I’ve been off by an hour the entire semester because of it.”
The Campanile currently houses a carillon consisting of 61 bells that can weigh between 20 pounds and 5.25 tons, according to its website. UC Berkeley employs the only full-time university carillonist in the United States, a position that was established through a grant in 1983.
While the clock faces were manually adjusted for the time change, campus junior Finn Boire noted that the computer that controls the hourly chimes was not adjusted. Boire added that the tower contains far more than just bells, including practice rooms, fossils, a music library and even a bust of Abraham Lincoln.
“There’s something very special about being able to go up to one of the best views I’ve ever seen and watch the sunset while playing music and contributing to a pretty important part of what people think of when they think of UC Berkeley,” Boire said in an email.
Despite its technical issues, the Campanile remains one of the most recognizable and beloved monuments at UC Berkeley, according to campus junior Sophia Ramirez. The tower, visible from miles away, was a sort of beacon representing the campus’s storied history and prestige, Kelvin added.
In a year when students have experienced a pandemic, a tense election and an online semester, according to campus sophomore Olivia McHaney, the Campanile ringing an extra time is just another symbol of 2020. Kelvin said he nearly fell out of his chair laughing when he realized the Campanile was off by an additional toll of the bells, adding that students could use a laugh amid these serious times.
“The Campanile being off by an hour is just another funny, ironic symbol of what 2020 has been like,” McHaney said. “Sure, things like the pandemic and the election have really been wild this year, but even the things we thought were super predictable keep going a little crazy.”