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Ringcomm Stands Firm; Rat Remains Unchanged

By Marissa Vogt

NEWS EDITOR

In a statement on its Web site last Friday, the Class of 2006 Ring Committee announced that they will not be altering the design for the 2006 Brass Rat. The statement was issued in response to the recent controversy surrounding two Greek letters and stars on the ring.

“We appreciate ArtCarved’s recent attempts to work with us on possibly making changes to the design, but it is the Ring Committee’s final decision not to change the 2006 Brass Rat, regardless of whether or not it is a feasible option,” the committee wrote in the statement.

“Changing the ring design even slightly would set a very poor precedent for ring committees of the future,” the committee wrote.

The full statement was issued on Friday and posted in the frequently asked questions section of the Web site, http://web.mit.edu/2006ringcomm/Webpages/FAQs.htm.

Only 226 respond to online survey

The ring committee’s statement came four days after a group of sophomores launched the web site http://ring2006.mit.edu to collect opinions about the design of the ring. The survey asks students to rate two controversial features of the ring, namely the Greek letters phi and theta beneath the Cambridge skyline and twin stars alleged by some to resemble the insignia of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

Michael J. Stanway ’06 said that the other creators of the Web site and he met with the ring committee last Friday to discuss the possibility of changing the ring design.

“At this point, it doesn’t look like there’s anything more that we can do unless we have some huge surge of responses on the web site,” Stanway said. “It doesn’t look like anything different is going to happen unless there’s forty to fifty percent of the class,” responding, he said.

As of last night, 226 students have responded to the survey, of which 199 are sophomores, or 20.2 percent of the class.

Stanway said that the ring committee “didn’t feel like there was a big enough response” and didn’t want the controversy to become “something that separated the class.”

Ring design process scrutinized

“The decision we had to make in the end was based on the personal interest of members of the committee, the mission of the committee, and thinking about the integrity of what the ring is supposed to mean,” said Class of 2006 President Raphael Farzan-Kashini ’06, who also served as a member of the ring committee.

Farzan-Kashini said that changing the ring would make the ring premiere an opportunity for everyone to look at the ring and change whatever they did not like about it. “The ring would lose its integrity that way. I just think it’s traditional. That’s why the ring premier is so powerful,” he said.

Stanway said that while he thinks that the ring premiere should still be the time when the ring is presented to the class, the class should be allowed to make decisions beforehand regarding controversial details of the ring. He said he feels that the general structure of the ring-design procedure should be remain the same.

Committee selection questioned

Students raised concerns regarding the composition of the ring committee and its selection process because of the presence of twin stars on the ring’s bezel and shank.

Four of the ring committee members, Tania D. Das ’06, Valerie Y. Kuo ’06, Lucy Y. Li ’06, and Wey-Jiun Lin ’06 are affiliated with the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Class of 2006 Vice President Brendan J. Smith ’06 said that at the time of the selection process, only two of the members were affiliated with the sorority, and the other two pledged during the year.

Of the ten committee members, eight are affiliated with either a fraternity or a sorority.

“I thought it was odd that there were that many people that were affiliated and that they didn't realize that it would be controversial” to put the Greek letters on the skyline, said Stanway.

Questions regarding disparities in living group representation were also raised last week, as there were no committee members from any of Bexley Hall, East Campus, Random Hall, Senior House, or MacGregor.

Smith said that one committee member, Meng Mao ’06, lived at East Campus when he was chosen, but then later moved to Zeta Psi.

He said that overall, very few applications were received from from East Campus, Random Hall, Bexley Hall, and Senior House.

The selection process “took probably 50 hours, including interviews,” said Smith. “It was a little much to ask us to go seek people out and get more applications.”

“We looked for people who would work well together,” said Farzan-Kashani. “We did our best to diversify. I feel like we did a good job of representing different parts of campus,” he said.