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Ring Committee’s Response

Dear Class of 2006,

It has been an honor and a privilege to design the 2006 Brass Rat. This year’s Ring Committee worked with incredible devotion since September. Our goal was to create a ring that embodies our class’s unity and showcases important events that have occurred during our time at MIT. Every symbol that was seen on the ring at the Ring Premiere was carefully thought out and discussed, sometimes for hours or days, before the entire committee agreed to eternalize it as a part of our class ring.

We embarked on this mission with the knowledge that no matter how hard we worked to represent every student’s interest, no symbol would satisfy every student in our class. The diversity of our class is what makes it great, but it also makes it impossible to find one representation that fits everyone. Thank you for all the positive responses that you have given us. Hearing from satisfied members of the class is gratifying as it reflects that we have accomplished a very difficult task. As ordering period continues, we are proud that hundreds of you are partaking in the age-old tradition of the MIT Brass Rat.

We appreciate the feedback that we have received from the class since Premiere, both positive and negative. Many of you have expressed valid concerns. However, it must be considered that Ring Premiere is the unveiling of the final ring design, a design which was finished before Thanksgiving and into which was put an enormous amount of thought and energy, while keeping in mind possible concerns.

One thing that the committee agreed should be represented on the ring was the policy change by MIT that all freshmen, whether affiliated or not, would live on campus. Changes in Rush have been reflected on past rings, such as 2005, which included a Rush gravestone on the class shank. In our symbol, we hoped to reflect how the policy change affected all the members of our class, and we realized that it did so by changing who we lived with during our freshman year. By forcing affiliated freshmen to live on campus, the new Rush policy allowed our class to be united for an entire year, unlike any other class before us. As a committee, we felt that the policy change affected our whole class to a great degree and needed to be symbolized on the ring.

Our next task was to decide what symbol would best represent affiliated and non-affiliated members of our class living together in Cambridge. The natural choice was to add a Greek symbol to dorm row on the Cambridge skyline, and we decided that the most-recognizable Greek symbol is Greek letters. We decided to place two letters on the skyline because they seemed more aesthetically pleasing than one or three letters.

Choosing the letters to put on the skyline was no simple task. We put a lot of effort into deciding how this should be done, and as a diverse committee we decided on the following method. Since the Brass Rat represents MIT, we knew we wanted to put the letters on the ring that appear most frequently in the names of MIT’s Greek organizations. (We included fraternities, sororities, independent living groups, and national panhellenic groups.) We counted up the letters that appear in the organizations’ names, finding that phi occurred 17 times and alpha 11 times. However, these two letters together spell Alpha Phi, and since our goal was not to represent one particular living group, we rejected this combination. The next most frequent letters are theta and sigma each appearing 10 times. The combination of phi and sigma was also rejected because Phi Sig, like Alpha Phi, refers to a specific organization. A count with only residential fraternities, sororities and independent living groups showed that phi still had the majority with 12, and theta, alpha, and delta all tied for second with 8. The same reasons as above can be applied to delta since the common name on campus for Phi Delta Theta is Phi Delts.

After much discussion the committee finally settled on phi and theta. It was the intent of the committee, and the purpose of the selection process to make sure these letters do not refer to particular Greek organizations. They were certainly not chosen to honor certain organizations and offend others. As a committee, we voted unanimously that phi and theta were as neutral a choice for the Greek letters as any other pair of Greek letters, and more representative of MIT than any other pair we could have chosen.

The dissatisfaction of a portion of the class with this aspect of the ring brought the Ring Committee together to discuss the implications of changing the ring design. The concerns of those who submitted negative feedback were considered and the opinions of the students were taken into account. However, we realized that changing the ring design even slightly would set a very poor precedent for ring committees of the future. No class should believe that Ring Premiere is a time to submit ideas for the Brass Rat - the class’s ideas were taken into account during the design period in the fall, and the full responsibility of designing the ring was given to a committee that was appointed by representatives of the class. By making a change to the ring after the design has been premiered we make the already-daunting task of future ring committees much more difficult. In addition, changing the ring would deliver a different product than promised to those who have already ordered their rings.

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, for reasons listed above.

Thank you for all of your feedback, we look forward to seeing you at Top of the Hub!


The 2006 Ring Committee