University seniors begin campaign to 'Beautify the Bell'

By EDDIE TRIZZINO, Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) — Though it hasn’t been rung in some time, the Victory Bell is still an identifying landmark of Fairmont State University’s campus.
With the bell now entering its 80th year on campus, Raychel Fitzwater noticed that it could use an update because while it has taken on different colors and art over the years, the rest of the campus has very much grown around it.
“After football games or basketball games when they won, they would ring the bell,” Fitzwater, acting president of Student Government, said. “It’s actually not functioning anymore, it’s just sitting there… It’s still part of campus, but it’s not as big as it used to be.”
In order to help restore the Victory Bell’s place and importance, Fitzwater helped to launch the “Beautify the Bell” Senior Campaign, which will utilize the efforts of the soon to be graduating class to create a seating area around it to make it more of a campus focal point.
“It’s such a big part of the history and it’s just sitting there,” Fitzwater said, before an announcement conference at the Falcon Center. “A lot of people just sit along that waterfall when it’s nice outside and there aren’t really a lot of seating areas on campus… We thought if there were benches there, it would allow students a little more time out in the grass during summer and the nice months.”
The Beautify the Bell campaign invites individuals, whether they be students, alumni or friends, to participate in the action to create the seating area, by purchasing a brick to be placed in the structuring. Students can purchase a personalized brick for the patio area for $20.19, and alumni and friends can purchase a personalized brick for the patio area for $50 each.
“It is a way for students to show their support for their soon to be alma mater,” Dr. Mirta Martin, president of Fairmont State, said. “This is an opportunity if you would, to say to the world ‘We have gone to Fairmont State University, we’re proud alumni of Fairmont State University, and we want the world to know that it was the class of 2019, 2020, 2021; that cared enough to invest back.”
During the press conference, Fitzwater showed off a computer-generated rendering of the proposed seating area, displaying the bell as a focal point to the seats surrounding it. Martin agrees that the idea is one that creates a more welcoming and relaxed atmosphere for students to enjoy while spending time on campus.
“It is serene, it is peaceful, and it lends itself just because of all the academic units that surround that area,” Martin said. “So being able to place an area where they can sit, where they can study, where they can congregate; where they can really become family, is really more of creating a heart of the university.”
Martin believes that the project will be completed through the collaboration of not only Fairmont State students and alumni, but through efforts of the community around them as well. She commended the students who came up with the idea, happy to see them create an initiative to beautify the campus.
“We are a community that comes together in support of a goal,” Martin said. “It’s a visual representation of who we are to the world.”
Individuals present at the conference had an opportunity to purchase some of the first bricks for the project following the meeting, with some heading over to a supplied laptop for a head start.
For Fitzwater, the opportunity provided by this campaign is a way for students or alumni to show support for those who played a role in their time at the university. She is hopeful that people will not only donate but notice the Victory Bell’s antique look and eventually look into its history.
“We just think it’s a really great way to help memorialize someone or someone who has impacted you on campus,” Fitzwater said. “Nobody really knows the history of the bell unless you look into it, so we thought it would be a good way to get students to learn a little bit more about it.”
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Information from: Times West Virginian, http://www.timeswv.com