The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 80.0°F | Overcast

Ring Features Secret Message, Nod to Stata

By Lauren E. LeBon


Early Saturday evening, I lined up with hundreds of my fellow sophomores along Memorial Drive, lured by the promise of free food, prizes, and a first glance at the design of our class ring.

The ring committee revealed the design for the Class of 2006 Brass Rat in a magically-transformed Walker Memorial on Saturday night.

The features on the ring came from several significant events that occurred on and off campus in the past two years, including the freshmen on campus policy, the retirement of President Vest, the construction of new buildings on campus, the exploration of Mars, and the 2003 snow day.

The committee explained that the main inspiration for the 2006 ring came from Van Gogh’s 1889 painting “Starry Night,” which you may recognize from many calendars and dorm room walls. Elements from the painting can be seen in the swirling skies on the bezel and the class shank.

The swirlies, the ring committee wrote in our ring brochures, are supposed “to remind us of that change and how fleeting our college experience is.”

I found the painting to be a strange choice to use on our ring. Sure, it’s pretty, but the work has some strong associations with the artist’s legendary “mad genius” personality.

Van Gogh painted the 19th century masterpiece during his stay in a French mental institution, shortly before his death in 1890.

Trapped from the outside world, and spinning deeper and deeper into insanity, Van Gogh painted from memory, depicting the world outside the institute walls as a chaotic place.

On second thought, maybe the painting is more appropriate than I thought.

When your powers combine...

A unique feature of this year’s Brass Rat is the hidden message encoded in the engravings on the side of the ring. (See page 16.)

The inside engraving has the MIT skyline, with Simmons Hall, the Stata Center, and the Green Building. The outside engraving depicts the Boston skyline, complete with the Citgo sign.

When two members of the Class of 2006 put their rings together, Captain Planet-style, the engravings come together to reveal the letters “MIT.” The Powerpoint animation of this feature at the premiere drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd.

Seal shank features two men

This year’s seal shank featured two men, to the delight of the crowd. The genders of the two figures on the official MIT seal are often points of contention each year, with some portion of each class wanting the seal to be updated to reflect the nearly equal population of undergraduate men and women on campus. The laborer wears a raccoon hat, as the members of our class were the “pioneers” of several new projects, including the new freshmen on campus policy, the sophomore exploratory option, and second term on grades. He holds a coffee cup, representing all-nighters, and a snow shovel, a constant reminder of last year’s snow day.

The scholar holds in his pocket the 8.02T “personal response system” clicker, to remind us forever of the new interactive version of Physics II.

The MIT logo on the bottom also integrates a large “V,” to commemorate the 13-year career and retirement of President Charles M. Vest this year. Next to the logo is a bunch of leaves, containing a musical note to represent the end of the Library Access to Music Project last fall.

Stata Center all over ring

The Stata Center appears not once, not twice, but three times on the new Brass Rat.

The outline of the building has been added to the traditional Hacker’s Map on the inside band of the ring. On the class shank, the jagged building peeks out from behind the Great Dome. Hidden in its angles are the letters “ILTFP.”

Finally, the outline of Stata was added to the Cambridge skyline along the sides of the ring, contributing to the secret message effect.

2006 goes to Top of the Hub

The Class of 2006 will receive their new Brass Rats at the ring delivery on April 30 at the Top of the Hub in the Prudential Center.

Sophomores can order their rings for the next two weeks in Lobby 10.