Editor’s note: The pronoun “she” was chosen arbitrarily for the student using the pseudonym Belle Bells.
Through the art of mass-panlisting, ‘Belle Bells’ has made a name for herself in the inboxes of hundreds of Yale students. Early evening on Thursday Sept. 19, a student using the pseudonym Belle Bells sent an email “STOP THE HARKNESS BELLS” with one simple line of instruction: “Reply all ‘m’ to mute the bells.” Students complied.
Dozens of students duped or intrigued by the message replied during the ensuing “replyallcalypse” — in lower case, all caps, sent from their iPhones, sent from Mailbox for iPhone — and at least two more incidents of mass ‘reply M’ panlists took place in the following month.
In an interview with the News, the student behind Belle Bells said she sent the email out of a genuine desire to ask students to consider reducing the playing time of the Harkness Tower bells. A similar mass email was sent last year asking students to complete a survey on the bells and results showed that Branford, Saybrook and Jonathan Edwards students had significantly lower appreciation for the daily concerts.
“No other group at Yale forces an hour and fifteen minutes of unsolicited performance on the entire student body,” Bells said. “Imagine if the Baker’s Dozen or Dukes’ Men broadcast their music campus wide daily for the same amount of time.”
Bells said she feels campus-wide panlists should not exist at all, and that she considers campus-wide panlist emails annoying in general. However, Bells said she found the slew of “m” reply-alls “pretty hilarious” and that she was flattered to have a copycat — referring to the later “death by bells” email.
“I wouldn’t say I have a master plan,” Bells said. “Muting conversations is trivial, and given that we’re all intelligent Yale students, it shouldn’t be hard to ignore [or] mute the email like we do so many others on a daily basis.”
Ignoring the email however was too difficult a task for dozens of Yale students. Regrettably for those involved, their names were all made public through the mass email chain. People on the chain often may not have realized the implication of emailing hundreds of undergraduates at once, said one pan-list replier, adding that he himself feels wary “after that whole thing.”
“It was an impulsive action,” another replier told the News. “I wasn’t thinking.”
One student said he lauded only those who came up with creative responses, such as one undergraduate who sent a request for others to accompany him to Taco Bell. The Taco Bell emailer told the News he did indeed receive offers for a Taco Bell road trip after sending the mass email. A fifth student said he merely replied “to be part of something glorious.”
“You can stop checking your email, but there’s no off switch for the bells,” a sixth student who replied to the chain offered.
The Harkness Tower bells ring from 12.30pm-1pm and 5-6pm every day.