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New Ring Unveiled By GSC

By Vanessa Nadal

The newly designed “Grad Rat” premiered last Thursday with its first new design in five years.

The graduate student class ring features new details, some reminiscent of the undergraduate ring and others more personalized for graduate students. It follows the standard three-part ring construction of the undergraduate brass rat, with a primary image on the front panel, called the bezel, and an image on each panel, or shank.

“Before [the rings] seemed pretty generic,” said Laura Proctor G, but “the new design looks pretty cool.”

Ring shank highlights degree

A major feature of the new ring is the “degree shank” that includes the year of graduation, the degree earned, and a large G with an inlaid departmental symbol representing the student’s major. Examples of departmental symbols include a DNA double helix for biology and a ballot box and ticket for political science. Because information like graduation year can change, this part of the ring can be changed for free at any time.

The rest of the ring is similar to the undergraduate ring. The bezel’s foreground centers around a beaver. The sides of the ring show the Cambridge and Boston skylines, and the inside of the ring has a map of main campus. The other shank displays the MIT seal.

The ring also has various symbols that characterize graduate student life. For example, the beaver on the bezel is holding a diploma, which forms the crust of a slice of pizza. This represents free food, which the ring information pamphlet said is “central to the graduate existence.” There are also tents behind the beaver that “reflect the state of affordable graduate housing,” according to the pamphlet.

Justin K. Werfel G, who is part of the five-member Graduate Student Ring Committee, said that “everyone [on the committee] had elements they wanted to include” in the ring’s design. They worked with artist Tim Flynn who, Werfel said, helped them realize their own ideas.

Design change rare in ring history

Graduate students were first offered a specialized ring in 1992, when students’ degrees were indicated on one of the ring’s flanks, said Alvar Saenz Otero G, chair of the committee. Prior to 1992, only a generic ring was available for all graduate students with the year, MIT beaver, and Killian Court.

In 1998, the ring was redesigned to include the letters “GSC,” or the Graduate Student Council, in the tree branches behind the beaver on the bezel. This year, the five-year production contract for the 1998 version of the ring ended so the GSC decided to have a new ring designed.

The ring committee was put in charge of designing the new ring. The committee wanted to “start a tradition,” said James Dai G, one of the committee members, but it was difficult because the graduate student body is “much more nebulous” than the undergraduate body.

Werfel said he was “disappointed” with the old graduate ring, and that he “didn’t see anything about this ring that would make me want to buy it, even wear it.”

Otero said that the feedback so far has been very positive, and he expects five- to seven-hundred people to buy the ring, up from about 150 the year before. “I think this ring will bring them what they expect in a brass rat,” he said.

Dai said the committee hopes the redesign becomes an annual process.

Lucy Wong G and Akshay Mohan G are the other two members of the ring committee.