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Boston Weather: 37.0°F | A Few Clouds

Class of 2001 Ring Tells Tale Of Rainy Rush, New Beginnings

By Jennifer Chung

About 700 sophomores battled the wet snow to attend the Class of 2001 Ring Premiere held last Saturday evening in Walker Memorial.

The weather was not unexpected, as the class of 2001 has found itself rained upon for many notable events -- a coincidence the 2001 “brass rat” makes a reference to, along with a deluge of other symbols present on the class ring.

The most notable feature about this year’s ring, however, is the way it will be delivered. Instead of picking up their brass rats in Lobby 13, sophomores who purchase rings will mingle and receive their rings on a 3-hour sunset cruise along the Boston skyline in May.

A ring delivery event has “never ever been done before,” said Quintin B. Louie ’01, chair of the ring committee. “We’re trying to start up new tradition... basically, we want people to have a good time. Getting the ring will be very, very fun.”

The trip is being paid for by ArtCarved, a division of Commemorative Brands International, the company which has been given the contract for the 2001 class ring. ArtCarved has previously also been granted contracts for the class of 2000 and class of 1996 rings.

Also for the first time, there is a new ring size, “extra small”. The purpose of “extra small” is to provide a ring which is not as small as “tiny” (which can miss a lot of details) but not as clunky as “small” (which tends to have an oversized bezel, or main ring face).

Rings will be on sale in Lobby 10 during business hours from Mar. 8 through Mar. 12 and Mar. 15 through Mar. 17. Prices range from $183 to $409 for a gold ring.

Brass rat has many new features

Among the most radical changes on this year’s brass rat is the fact that the beaver on the bezel is facing right, to symbolize change. Traditionally, the beaver faces left; only one other class in the entire history of the brass rat has reoriented the beaver.

This was “probably the most controversial change,” said Andrew D. Montgomery ’01, president of the sophomore class.

There is an MIT map on the underside of the ring, following an idea from the 1999 brass rat. Unlike the class of 1999 ring map, however, the 2001 map is less deeply engraved and “will not make your fingers bleed,” said Ring Committee Member Matthew Lockhart ’01, during the presentation of the ring. Boston and Cambridge skylines, complete with Citgo sign, MIT sail, and Harvard Bridge smoots, are also engraved on the ring.

Although the overall pattern on each of the shanks, or sides, of the ring follows tradition, they are covered with more symbolism than last year’s ring. The “class shank”, for instance, features the goddess Athena “enrobed in a percent sign and armed with the shield of 2001,” according to the ring brochure. She sits inside a Killian Court with “2001” spelled out in Morse code above the pillars, “class of 2001” spelled out in braille in the windows of Lobby 10, and the number “01” in a string around the Great Dome. Huge raindrops appear above the dome, to “remind us of the first rainy week we spent as MIT freshmen,” the brochure states, and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority“T” signs appear, “reminding that for only $0.85 you can escape MIT,” according to Ring Committee Member Emily Hui ’01.

Remarkably, the traditionally-straightforward seal shank -- although it still contains the two men and lamp above the motto “Mens et Manus” -- is equally crowded with symbols, containing another weather reference, a reference to MIT’s recent presence in movies and the media, and a discreetly disguised fire hydrant in place of the usual podium.

In addition to the reorientation of the beaver, other symbols appear on the bezel. Representing the massive policy changes which have taken place in the past few years is a bottle within the “negative space” of two blades of grass, and the letters “R/O” fade away in a river. The class of 2001 was the last class to have a Residence and Orientation week named as such.

Student response is positive

Many students who attended the premiere were impressed with the ring design.

“I think they did a good job representing our class,” said Paola B. Nasser ’01. The ring has “some really creative ideas,” she said.

“I really love [the ring design],” said Pearlin P. Cheung ’01. “I thought our committee went beyond tradition. [It’s] so cool.”

The ring “exceeded my expectations,” added Kristie L. Tate ’01.

“I think it’s very clever,” said Max Van Kleek ’01. “I like how [the ring] breaks tradition. I love the Athena symbols; long live Athena!”

The ring design is “okay,” said Matt Alaniz ’01. “I especially like how we’re getting a cruise.”

“I expected something very different, but I guess it’s not possible,” said Antonio J. Copete ’01. “There are a lot of neat symbols. The one I liked best was the ivy,” he said, referring to the man on the seal shank using his sledgehammer on “eight small ivy leaves.” This symbol, representing the eight Ivy League schools, prompted loud and enthusiastic cheering when it was introduced to the audience.

“They did a heck of a job,” said Ian M. Finn ’01, who also liked the ivy symbolism.

“I think it’s pretty cool... they brought back the map, which I really liked,” said Rachael Leventhal ’01, although “there are things I don’t get.” Many sophomores expressed confusion at the presence of the “76” on the bezel, representing 2001’s sister class.

“Once you graduate, the sister class helps you plan reunions,” Montgomery explained later. According to Montgomery, the sister class also helps financially with the reunions. The sister class is the class which graduated 25 years previously.

Ceremony has several problems

While the ring premiere itself went fairly well overall, a number of things went wrong during the slide presentation. Students were accidentally given a look at the bezel and the cruise slides before the ring committee intended them to be shown.

“We’re having a good day, can you tell?” deadpanned Adam C. Reynolds ’01, a ring committee member.

An atmosphere of elegance pervaded the room, however. Well-dressed ring committee members distributed glass cups to entering students, and an ice-sculpted brass rat sat near the entrance, melting in the bright lamp behind it. .T.I.M, the MIT beaver, also greeted people at the entrance.

“It was good to see that the things which made us enthusiastic made the class enthusiastic,” said Rashmi Khare ’01, vice-chair of the ring committee.