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Crowds of Sophomores Attend Annual Ring Premiere; Examine Beaver's new `Natural Look'

By Sabrina H. Kwon
Associate News Editor

Over 700 sophomores attended the annual premiere of the class ring, held in Room 10-105 last Tuesday. The Class of 1994 Ring Committee displayed the newest design of the "brass rat" for two hours. A record-breaking number of curious sophomores came to view their class ring firsthand, said Walter E. Babiec '94, ring committee co-chair.

The new ring keeps the traditional bulky styling which characterizes the general design of MIT's class rings. This year's beaver has a different look than last year's. "We were striving for a more natural look for the beaver, because people had commented that they didn't like last year's aggressive look," said Babiec.

Subtle class identifiers on the ring include "the sticks in the lower left of the base where `ninety-four' is written out," Babiec said. "The beaver's hands hold sticks that are positioned to read XCIV, the moon has two levels -- one that says `94,' and alongside it says `69' to signify our buddy class," he said. "There's also `MIT' written in the beaver's fur, and a fire hose on the tail which symbolizes both the hacks that are played at MIT and the analogy of an MIT education being like a drink from a fire hose."

Side designs kept simple

"We kept both seal sides very simple, because it seemed from the survey that everyone wanted them simple," said ring committee member Hea Kyung Chung '94.

The large 1994 on the class side of the ring is displayed on the pages of an open book. "The idea behind the book was to commemorate [former Dean for Undergraduate Education Margaret L.A.] MacVicar's death, who founded the UROP program here. The ribbon-bookmark in the pages of the book has the three symbols of the UROP program on it, also," said Chung. A frontal view of the Great Dome was chosen over the side view, which was used last year, so that "the trees that line Killian Court could be included," Chung added.

For the traditional seal side, "we chose a straight `MIT' instead of a curved `MIT,' because we thought it looked better aesthetically. This, however, was a close vote," said committee member Ann Chen '94. " `MENS ET MANUS,' which is our school motto, is written on a scroll whose ends roll into a nine and a four, and below that is the Phoenix, which symbolizes knowledge and experience gained from being at MIT," she said. Chen finished her description by saying that the lamp of knowledge's flames, which flicker in the shape of the numeral 127 -- since the Class of 1994 is MIT's 127th graduating class, sits between the two traditional men on the seal.

The ideas for the new design were taken from surveys and suggestion sheets the committee put out in Lobby 7 last fall. The committee then voted upon the new design elements. "We required a 60% majority for an idea to pass, but most decisions for the design ended up being unanimous," said Babiec. The design of the traditional ring was finalized by the committee on December 12.

Balfour gets account

Balfour was chosen over Jostens to handle the Class of 1994's account because it offered a better package deal. "If you compare the cheapest Jostens graduate ring, which costs $375, you can see that Balfour, whose most expensive ring is $390, is the better deal," Babiec said. He also mentioned that the account is not particularly lucrative for Balfour, but is highly sought after by many ring companies because it is considered "a prestige account."

Past years have shown that the traditional ring is far more popular than the dinner or women's fashion ring. "No more than 60 people a year have bought the dinner ring, and those that did usually also bought a traditional ring," Babiec said.

Most will buy

Student opinion on the ring was mixed. M. Lily Datta '94 was pleased with the committee's design. "I think they did a really good job with it -- the detailing makes our class really unique. I especially like the hidden MIT in the beaver's fur," she commented.

Peter K. Verprauskus '94 agreed with Datta. "The design is great -- especially the reference to MIT through the fire hose. All things considered, I'm really impressed with the job that the ring committee did," he said.

"It's okay. It's a beaver ... I'm going to buy one because it's one of those things you've just got to have," said Phillip S. Cho '94.

Some students, like Frank C. Popp '94, were unhappy with this year's ring. "This year's beaver looks wimpy. It has MIT carved into its posterior, and it is staring blankly into space. Last year's beaver was bad-ass; I'm very disappointed with this year's," he said.

Another complaint was the price of the ring. "I'm not going to buy a ring ... it's too expensive. I'd rather buy 30 CDs," commented Mohammed A. Hendawi '94.

Despite these mixed feelings, the class ring is expected to sell well. "Usually less than 50% of the class shows up for the ring premiere. This year, well over 50% -- more than 700 people -- stopped by," said Chen.

"By graduation, 90 percent of the Class of 1994 will have purchased a class ring. Seventy to 75 percent will buy within the next two weeks," Babiec said.