September 14, 2004

Blown Transistor Plagues McGraw

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Early last Wednesday morning, the clock on top of McGraw Tower malfunctioned — first when the hands failed to move from the time of 3:50, and later having each of the four faces showing a different, incorrect time.

The malfunction is due to a blown transistor according to Lisa Ngai ’05, head chimesmaster. Ngai said that because of this, the clock faces froze and the hour chimes stopped.

Although the chimes and concerts were back in commission later that day, Ngai said a technician is still working on fixing the inaccurate faces. According to the chimes’ website, when working, a global positioning system helps keep each clock face correct.

Since the tower is one of the most recognizable University landmarks, students and other members of the University community are having trouble with the clock that has gone bad.

“The clock is very much a centerpiece of my life,” said Dan Yagudin, a staff member at Cornell Hillel. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without it … I’m hurt and hopeless.”

Although many students might not place the same importance on the clock that Yagudin does, McGraw Tower provides an easy reference for tardy students who are in a rush or for professors who use it as a guide for themselves. According to Ellie Hodara ’05, one of her clock tower-reliant teachers has to borrow students’ watches so that class does not end late.

Cyprienne Crowley ’06 does not wear a timepiece, so in many cases she tries to time her departure from home to make class on time, using the tower as a guide. Yesterday however, Crowley wasn’t so lucky — she was late to her French class.

When asked if she would not be as late if the McGraw malfunction was fixed, Crowley said, “yeah, I would say that.”

For some students however, the tower is not necessary for obtaining the time. Josh Dormont ’05 pointed out that the chimes, which ring every 15 minutes, are still in commission, and his watch works well. Others use their cellular phones, but many admitted that it is not as convenient in comparison to the tower.

“It’s a lot of effort sometimes to take it out of the pocket and check the time,” Elias Saba ’08 said.

While many students had no idea concerning the reasons for the McGraw malfunction, Yagudin offered a suggestion.

“Someone is trying to get a girl’s attention,” he said. “A guy was like, ‘I would stop time for you’ and he did.”

While students remain unexcited by the luxury of having a 173 foot tall clock, McGraw Tower has been around for a while — 113 years to be exact — and maybe it was time for it to take a couple of days off.

“Maybe it’s tired,” one female student said yesterday. “It’s Monday.”

Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor