With the success of the newly renovated Baldwin, the college announced last week plans for further modernizing the campus, one such plan including the William K. Stouffer Clock Tower.
After only seven years of service, the analog clocks adorning the clock tower in front of the Norris Center are to be replaced with digital clock faces in order to keep pace with modern sensibilities.
“While, yes, I’ll be sad to see such special part of the campus altered, the new digital clock faces will represent Albion’s commitment to appealing to today’s students,” said Willy O’Malley, keeper of the clock tower.
And keeping the college up-to-date for students seems indeed to be the impetus behind this latest facelift.
“Students today are used to looking at their cellular devices or their computers to tell the time,” said Gordon Cooper, head of the recently formed Alterations Committee. “Many of them can’t read an analog clock any better than I can tell the time from a sundial. It’s just something they never had to learn, and if something has no utility for students, why keep it?”
In fact, the consensus among members of the Alterations Committee is that students of the digital age—an age of information-at-a-glance—have simply evolved beyond analog clocks, just as the modern television-viewer has ascended from the limitations of analog TV.
“All that big hand and little hand business—I mean, who has the time?” questioned Rick Bedford, Ann Arbor junior, echoing the committee’s sentiment.
In general, students seem to agree with the committee and are excited about the coming digital clock faces.
“I’m stoked about the clock tower going digital,” said Barry Hickman, Traverse City sophomore. “It’ll be nice to be able to look up at the tower and actually know what time it is.”
However, despite the plan’s wide-ranging popularity, several dissenting voices have made themselves heard.
“Part of why I was attracted to Albion was its focus on tradition. I mean, the school doesn’t even have a computer-science program,” said Arlow Macalister, Williamsburg, Va., first-year. “Aesthetically, the campus gives off a very late eighteenth century vibe, part of which comes from the clock tower. So what if it’s not the easiest way to tell time? It’s a beacon of collegiate heritage.”
Unfortunately for dissenters like Macalister, the clock tower’s digitization seems imminent. The construction is scheduled to begin sometime in May.
No news yet on the job security of the children employed to operate the analog clocks from the inside.
Photo courtesy of Albion College