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Class of 2003 Premieres Ring

In Return To Tradition, Ring Will Not Feature a Female Figure

By Efren Gutierrez


The Class of 2003 returned to tradition for their class ring design while including many unique features signifying this year’s sophomore class.

The 2003 Ring Committee’s design, which includes the Dot, a construction crane, and double helices, was unveiled Saturday at the Class of 2003 Ring Premiere in Walker Memorial.

Unlike last year’s Brass Rat, this ring will not feature a woman on the mens et manus seal.

About 800 students from the Class of 2003 attended the event. Class of 2003 President Sina Kevin Nazemi told the audience: “This will probably be the last time the Class of 2003 will be all together like this until Commencement.” Shirts, shot glasses, and other gifts to commemorate the event were given away to students, and a trip to Florida was also raffled off.

On Saturday, May 12, the Class of 2003 will hold a ring cruise for students who order their rings within the next two weeks. The three-hour cruise will take place in the evening. For those that cannot attend, the rings will be available to be distributed on Monday, May 14.

Ring includes unique features

This year’s rendition of the Brass Rat includes several significant embellishments to the basic design. The top of the ring depicts a beaver near the Charles River, standing above ivy leaves, to show MIT’s relation to the Ivy League. The beaver is making a bridge to an unknown destination, as is the sophomore class. Two small messages, “TOOL” and “IHTFP,” are hidden in the design. Behind the beaver is the skyline of MIT, including a crane to symbolize the prevalent construction on campus.

The Great Dome is the most prominent feature on the class shank, but this year it has a new look. There are checkmarks on either side of the dome commemorating the 2000 presidential election. DNA strands wrap around two of the columns, signifying the recent completion of the Human Genome Project, to which MIT contributed. An owl is featured on the bottom to symbolize MIT students’ wisdom, ability to work late at night, and dependence on the Athena computer system.

A new feature on the engraved map inside the ring will be the Dot, reminiscent of the controversy sparked by its possible removal last spring.

At the premiere, the ring committee parodied Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and polled the audience on whether the mens (mind) figure should be a man or a woman. Last year, instead of a man reading a book, a woman using a laptop represented mens. When the committee finally revealed that this year’s figure was male, about half the audience cheered, while the other half showed disappointment.

The mens symbol this year is a male scholar reading a book with a price tag, symbolizing the high price of an education at MIT. For the manus (hands) symbol, a blacksmith is forging an ’03 symbol. A burning book on the bottom signifies the passion students have for learning.

The issue about the mens et manus symbol became the most heated topic of discussion for the ring committee. “The issue about whether the mens symbol should be a man or a woman took about three to four weeks. It was a very heated subject, and no side wished to budge,” said Ring Committee Chair Atish D. Nigam ’03. Eventually, the group decided that it would be best to stay with tradition.

Students had differing opinions about the design of the ring. “I personally like the way the ring was designed,” said Emily L. Oliphant ’03. “The ring committee chose well in keeping with tradition and not keeping the woman from last year’s Brass Rat.”

Noramay J. Cadena ’03 disagreed. “I like the way the ring looks, except it would have been better if there was a woman on it,” she said.

Design based on student input

The design for the new Brass Rat is the result of a nine-month process by the ten-member Class of 2003 Ring Committee. “We began to design at the end of the last spring term. By mid-November we were done with the design, and by the first of December, we had the first models made,” said Nigam.

This year’s ring committee was a diverse group, bringing a mixture of East and West Campus residents, and residents of Boston and Cambridge. To solicit input about the ring design and the premiere, the committee set up an online message board.

“We got very good feedback from students,” said Nigam. “Probably 100 people submitted messages on it, which is fairly good. We used some of the suggestions for the premiere and for the ring. However, there was no real overwhelming majority on some issues.”