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UNC seniors climb bell tower, embrace their last week

The General Alumni Association hosted the annual Senior Belltower Climb on Tuesday. Chancellor Folt stopped by to hand out cookies to those waiting in line and do the climb as well.
The General Alumni Association hosted the annual Senior Belltower Climb on Tuesday. Chancellor Folt stopped by to hand out cookies to those waiting in line and do the climb as well.

It takes eight semesters to make it to the top of the Bell Tower to sign your name to a brick.

Seniors stood in line for hours Tuesday for the chance to take part in the annual Senior Bell Tower Climb. The climb is one of the many Senior Week events organized by the General Alumni Association to celebrate seniors' last five days of classes.

"It was really cool to see UNC from a different perspective," said senior Emma Seagle.

Seagle, along with seniors Kelly McDermott and Olivia Bagley, said she climbed the Bell Tower purely for the experience.

"Feeling honored as a senior, I think, is really cool," Seagle said.

Elementary Education Major Laura Davis said climbing the Bell Tower is a senior tradition unlike any other.

"It's one of the cool perks that seniors have and a way to leave your name and your legacy," she said. "It's just cool to be up there."

Chancellor Carol Folt stopped by to extend congratulations to the seniors in line and take her first climb up the Bell Tower alongside them.

"The best thing about this is seeing all the seniors' faces," she said. "They're carrying this amazing tradition with them and they are certainly going to remember it and bring it back when they come back to Carolina."

Folt said the Bell Tower is a special place on campus that holds significance.

"It's a beacon of what this University means," she said. "It carries a lot of very strong collective and personal meaning."

Before climbing back down, Folt paused to take photos of the line of students at the bottom, continuing her recent trend of selfies but also capturing what she called a "you-ie," which she posted on Twitter to commemorate "a great UNC tradition."

C. Hawkins, manager of student engagement for the GAA, said the climb is one of the more popular events of the week and his personal favorite.

"People seem to get very excited about the experience of going into the Bell Tower," he said. "For me, because I've been so many times, it's amazing to see other people like 'Oh, I'm excited.'"

Hawkins said the climb, although early in the week of events, is a good way for seniors to end their time at the University.

"It's like a good signal to the end — a good end."

Journalism professor Lois Boynton, who will deliver the Senior Class Last Lecture, said the Bell Tower Climb is above all a chance to salute and celebrate the seniors.

"They have these opportunities that are just for them — that end of semester type of thing — that sort of helps them go out with a bang," she said. "It's special. I think it's really important this last week."

Boynton will address seniors in front of the Morehead Planetarium on Thursday as the last lecture for the graduating class. It won't be a typical lecture, but reminiscent of her trademark silliness, she said.

Boynton said she was planning on stopping by the Bell Tower to join her soon-to-be audience in a climb up the winding stairs.

"I think I'll go by and do some high-fives on that," Boynton said.

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She said her advice to the graduating class is ultimately to have fun and celebrate.

"Take advantage of these opportunities," she said. "Climb the Bell Tower. And remember why you're not drinking out of the Old Well. If I understand correctly, there's free food. Always go for that."