SLU Traditions: What ‘Ringing the Bell’ Truly Means
Anyone familiar with St. Lawrence’s campus and culture knows that there are a number of long-standing traditions that have stood the test of time. Such traditions can be large or small, and are introduced to new Laurentians throughout their undergraduate career. These shared campus experiences are celebrated as early on as the Candlelight Ceremony on the Quad during a Laurentian’s first week on campus, all the way through to the string of festivities commemorating Senior Week each year before Laurentians cross the stage at graduation and prepare to leave the caring arms of St. Lawrence. Ask any St. Lawrence grad about their favorite campus traditions, and you will be sure to get a smile, a laugh, and a telling of one’s nostalgic remembrance of the time-tested St. Lawrence tradition they value most.
One campus tradition that I hold close to my heart is the ringing of The Saints Victory Bell. Whether it is in the middle of Canton’s merciless winter months or the warm days of early spring, student athletes from all teams join together in ringing the bell after a win against an opposing team. Campus has witnessed members of the Football Team sing the alma mater while surrounding the Bell, the Swimming & Diving Team run out to the Bell in just their bathing suits after a championship meet, and members of the Riding Team hopping right off a four-hour bus ride in the middle of the night to relish in its chimes.
Although a smaller tradition recognized by many student athletes as the symbol of a team’s success, the ringing of the Victory Bell stands as recognition of more than just a final score. According to Paul Haggett, one of our Library Assistants who is knowledgeable in St. Lawrence’s Special Collections, the Victory Bell was introduced to St. Lawrence’s campus during renovations of the athletic facilities around 2000-2001. The Victory Bell was installed and dedicated in honor of Katie Cassidy Higgins ‘00, a Laurentian who left our community too soon after passing in a motor vehicle accident during her time here. A member of the 1998 St. Lawrence Women’s Lacrosse Team, Katie is remembered as a student athlete with “good-natured spirit, unrelenting enthusiasm, and devotion to her lacrosse team and to St. Lawrence Athletics.” Anyone who passes by the Victory Bell will notice the plaque on its side that reads “The Saints Victory Bell” along with the written dedication: “In honor of Katie, a wonderful sports woman, all St. Lawrence athletic teams are encouraged to ring ‘The Bell’ in celebration of their victories.”
The ringing of the Victory Bell can be heard not only by those nearby the athletic facilities, but often by those across campus as well. The sound of the Bell signals a win for an athletic team, but it also serves as a larger reminder that in anything we do as Laurentians, we compete with a sense of integrity and pride, we remember and honor those who came before us, and we celebrate (and let it be heard!) the successes we achieve together.