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Class of 2005 Brass Rat Features Rush Tombstone, Traditional Seal

By Jay Cameron

Laughter and applause greeted the 2005 Brass Rat as more than 700 members of the class of 2005 gathered in Walker Memorial last Saturday for their Ring Premiere.

The latest Rat featured traditional features, traditional humor, and some new ideas.

The class shank features the prominent Great Dome, below which sits a cracked tombstone reading “Rush.”

Below the school initials on the seal shank lies the original two-man MIT Seal. Below this seal are an Erlenmeyer flask and a hip flask; the 2005 Brass Rat pamphlet says that the Erlenmeyer flask represents chemistry-related work and reads “tool,” while the hip flask represents alcohol-related play and reads “punt.”

During the presentation, a few members of the audience booed as a dove, representing peace around the world, was revealed below “punt” and “tool.”

The “Rush” tombstone on this year’s ring generated an emotional round of applause throughout the audience. The tombstone represents the old rush system, which ended after the Class of 2005’s rush and orientation.

The tombstone was inspired by the “rush” tombstone hack during the Class of 2005 Killian Kickoff, said Ring Committee chair Rohit Gupta ’05, adding that he felt this part of the Brass Rat was especially relevant to the class of 2005.

Speaking of the ring in general, Nao Gamo ’05 said, “It’s really personalized for our class.”

Other features of the ring include the Boston and Cambridge skylines, a map of MIT engraved on the inside of the ring, and the Institute mascot, now a more muscular beaver on the ring’s bezel, representing a campus health consciousness.

Little controversy on MIT seal

In recent years, students have debated the gender balance of the seal shank on one side of the Brass Rat, which this year features the official MIT seal. This year the audience response was tame when the original school seal was projected onto the two large screens in the front of the room.

According to the pamphlet distributed at the Ring Premiere, the seal shank “features the MIT School Seal, unadulterated and in its purest form possible.” Two men symbolically hold a book and a hammer to match the Latin phrase mens et manus directly below them.

“I’m glad that [the 2005 Ring Committee] stuck with that tradition,” said William R. Fowler ’05. “Since the founding of the Institute, that’s been our seal, and if there’s one thing on the ring that shouldn’t change, it’s the seal of the Institute.”

Allison Hall ’05 said, “I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal. It’s just a tradition.”

“The reason we put the traditional seal [on the ring] was because we felt that most people wanted the traditional design,” said Rohit Gupta ’05, the Ring Committee chair.

The committee received input from the class of 2005 via e-mail, through a committee Web site, and at a committee-sponsored study break.

Controversy surrounding the school seal began three years ago, when the class of 2002’s ring included a woman on the MIT seal for the first time. Though most of the class was happy with the design, some were upset at the deviation from tradition.

The class of 2003 Brass Rat featured two men, but the controversy was revisited last year when an information leak from the 2004 Ring Committee prompted 2004 Ring Committee chair Douglas J. Quattrochi ’04 and former class of 2004 President Patrick Y. Kim to hold a class-wide vote to decide whether to include a woman the 2004 Brass Rat seal shank.

After a vote that leaned heavily toward a two-man seal, the Ring Committee reverted to a two-man seal.

ArtCarved will make 2005 Rats

This year, the Ring Committee decided to order the rings from ArtCarved, a company that Ring Committees have ordered from in the past, Gupta said. Last year, the 2004 Ring Committee ordered from Jostens, but Gupta said that Jostens was poorly organized, and after considering issues like pricing, warranty, and artists, ArtCarved was their top choice.

Despite the cold weather and moderate rain, hundreds of sophomores huddled together in a line outside the front doors of Walker before 5 p.m., some excited to see their class ring and others motivated to receive their free t-shirts and mugs.

Upon entering Walker Memorial, members of the class of 2005 were checked for identification, then greeted with free food on one side and two projection screens on the other while dance music blasted.

Presenting in semi-formal attire, the committee members took their turns in an informal presentation, with expletives embedded in occasional jokes.

At one point, Ring Committee member Rose Grabowsky ’05 appeared to spontaneously start a dance contest during the raffle. Two contestants in the impromptu contest, Alex and Ethan Crumlin ’05, took off their shirts in an attempt to win a prize.