DANIEL SMITH/THE HOYA
DANIEL SMITH/THE HOYA

In the latest iteration of a long-running tradition, the clock hands of Healy Tower went missing in the early hours of this morning, as the final examination period dawned. The university has confirmed a theft.

“While we are making repairs to the clock system this was not us,” Vice President for Facilities and Management Robin Morey wrote in an email to The Hoya. “[The Georgetown University Police Department] has initiated an investigation and we are assessing if there was any damage.”

WGTB was the first to report the absence of the hands on social media, posting a tweet, accompanied by a picture, at 4:01 a.m.

“I was working late on Walsh 2 when I got a text … [that] the clock hands might be missing, but there were no pictures yet,” WGTB General Manager Megan Schmidt (COL ’15), a cartoonist for The Hoya, wrote in an email. “WGTB was the first to tweet out the last time the clock hands went missing, so I had a legacy to uphold. I ran to Healy Circle and was already pretty delirious from lack of sleep and high caffeine levels and I kind of just remember laughing like a crazy person and then almost having an asthma attack.”

The clocks hands were last stolen on April 30, 2012, and replaced on May 8. The estimated repair cost to the clock and surrounding area was $9,000. Tradition dictates that the thieves send the clock hands to the Vatican for the pope’s blessing, but there were no reports as to the hands’ eventual fate or the thieves’ identities.

In the 1960s, the hands were stolen so often that the university stopped replacing the hands. In recent years, however, the university has cracked down on the theft, meting out one year of academic probation and 75 and 100 hours of community service, respectively, to Andrew Hamblen (SFS ’07) and Wyatt Gjullin (COL ’09), who stole the hands in 2005, and confessed. The estimated damage from that incident totalled $25,000.

Today, though, the university capitalized on the heist, sharing pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

“#TimelessTradition,” Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh said in an initial statement to The Hoya, reflecting the captions on social media.

Pugh did not comment specifically as to the whether the university had changed its stance on the theft, but did later confirm that there is an ongoing investigation as to who removed the hands.

At 4:19 a.m., there was a darkened police vehicle stationed at the front gates, as well as an SUV in Healy Circle, but no security personnel were evident.

“We are still investigating the theft at this time. Anyone with information should contact us at 202-687-4343, through the GUPD Anonymous Tip Form or through the LiveSafe App,” GUPD Chief Jay Gruber wrote in an email.

Although various social media postings enjoyed wide popularity among students and alumni, Fr. Christopher Steck, S.J., expressed disapproval.

“I’m not a fan of traditions that are secretive and exclusive, and that disrupt the lives of our facilities personnel,” Steck wrote in an email.

Schmidt, however, said that while WGTB should be ruled out as suspects, the timing of the heist provides some positives during finals season.

“I find this act to be very motivational,” she wrote. “I mean, hell, if someone can navigate and scale the clock tower, I think I can write a five-page paper by tomorrow at midnight.”

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3 Comments

  1. I’m with Steck–there is no motivation to be found here–some idiot damaged the oldest building on campus and caused what will probably be a few thousand dollars worth of damage to steal the hands off a clock. Furthermore, the PR department seemingly condoned the heist by tweeting a picture and creating a hashtag while DPS launched an investigation. If that isn’t a statement about how disjointed the administration is, I don’t know what is. Call me crazy, but it’s time to find a new “tradition.”

    • Terence Looi says:

      Lighten up a bit. It’s a university prank.

      • You're just plain wrong says:

        “some idiot damaged the oldest building on campus”…

        That’s just flat out wrong. Remembrance/McSherry (1792), Freedom Hall/Mulledy (1833), Old North (1795), The Observatory (1844), Gervase (1848), and Maguire (1855) are all older than Healy (1879).

        Not that I disagree with you, but your claim loses credibility when it is flat out wrong.

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