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The Fraudulent Ring Tradition

Devdoot Majumdar

There are things I don’t like, and then there are things I hate.

I don’t like the UA -- it’s never done a damned thing for me, but at least the kids are well-intentioned with their flag debates and town hall meetings.

I don’t like The Tech -- we’re basically a lifeless group of “writers” with aimless opinions on everything, but still, the campus needs a newspaper.

But what I hate -- more irritating than a sermon from the alcohol dean, more shameless than “Trump Ice,” more inane than making a movie in Aramaic -- is the annual ring committee power trip and the brass turd that it excretes.

I was recently at a meeting, where the class councils from 2005, 2006, and 2007 were also present. Frankly, the leaders of those classes were all possessed with the notion that their voices and revolutionary ideas needed to be heard.

Every year, the brass rat is designed by these people. RingComm is picked by these people, populated by more of these people, and yet the class is still supposed to enjoy what these crafters of bad symbolism create?

I never bought a ring. The few things I actually cherish about MIT could never be ordained by a committee of self-congratulatory hacks, no less during my sophomore year!

What may have started as a tradition of hiding symbolic messages into a shank has degenerated into an absurd year-long debate over whether or not the ring should depict men or women (2006), whether the twin towers should be on the ring (2004), or whether Christopher Columbus should be on the ring (1994).

If you ask me, it’s crass, meaningless, and falsely sentimental. The ring’s attempt at sentimentality (twin towers, end of Rush, etc.) is worse than a Trent Lott apology. It’s just a poor attempt to sell rings, which brings me to the final point.

The job of RingComm is to make money for the company that sells the rings. It’s a purely commercial endeavor, and they get a $50,000 budget to advertise a ring with events like the ring cruise or the ring premiere. As a result, close to 1,000 students shell out $300 each to buy their lucrative fingerturd.

I think of the UA types who feel so special about themselves when they get to meet Colin Quinn, Margaret Cho, Sugar Ray, or Jurassic 5. And then I think of the kids on RingComm, who must feel so great about themselves for telling an artist what arcane symbols (or greek letters) to hide in a ring shank. I’m embarrassed that I even know what a shank is. And however cool these kids end up feeling about themselves for the ring they help design, all they’re doing is generating extraordinary revenue for a company like Jostens or ArtCarved.

My critics will say that the ring cruise is an MIT tradition that brings the class together. However empty and commercial, it should be carried on because it’s the only time before graduation that a class will be united, they say. Well, try this on for size: orientation sucked, and my class is full of people I don’t care to know or see before graduation.

Furthermore, by their reasoning, we should be whoring our classes out to any company that will give us a $50,000 promotional budget. Hell, we could market our classes out to The Coop, to Microsoft, or even to Playboy! I guarantee it would help bring the students together in yet another sterile moment of unity. And then “student leaders” could bask in their tawdry moment of self-promotion at even more events!

In the end, the ring does not represent my MIT experience. It’ll never help me in an interview and it’ll always remind me of the type of people I hate. So, revel in your moment of class unity, as you shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to ArtCarved. And to those of you on the RingComm (even the Thetas), you will always sicken me.