It wasn’t the iPhone 5 or a new video game console that had a few hundred members of the class of 2013 waiting outside in the cold last Friday night. Bundled up in a large line outside Kresge Auditorium, sophomores patiently waited in 20-degree temperatures for an early seat to Ring Premiere — the unveiling of the iconic Brass Rat, MIT’s renowned class ring. The first 400 students to arrive at the auditorium were promised a mysterious free gift, and it was this lure that attracted so many students to arrive two hours early to an event that was only an hour long.
I went with a large group of people from my hall who were all excited for the mystery gift. Upperclassmen warned us it would just be something small, like a toothpick holder, but we still set off excitedly. We arrived at Kresge around 6:20 p.m, for the 8 p.m. ceremony.
There were at least 50 people already waiting in line.
Students did their best to amuse themselves during the two-hour wait. While I spilled clam chowder from Verdes all over my jacket, a couple of kids from East Campus played guitar and set up a tent and camp stove to roast marshmallows. Others were seen with Nintendo DS consoles or Kindles. A group of people behind me were playing vuvuzelas left over from the World Cup.
Half an hour before the doors were set to open, the line behind us stretched past the Student Center’s east entrance. People grew antsy and began pushing. Shortly before we entered the auditorium, I noticed that some of the students who were originally behind us had mysteriously appeared in front of us.
Once the doors opened, the shoving worsened as everyone scrambled for free gift tickets. Our entry tickets were later used to raffle off a few free brass rats. As we were ushered into Kresge, I was struck by the size of our class for the first time since orientation.
There were two sororities near the front of the auditorium in matching T-shirts, presumably in support of their members on the ring committee. I also saw T-shirts representing multiple living groups, including many fraternities. It isn’t often that I identify as “MIT Class of 2013” and not just “East Campus Resident” or “Tech writer,” but for the first time in a while, I felt as if our entire class had come together.
After the crowd settled, the lights dimmed and nobody appeared on stage. Instead, the class of 2013 was treated to a cute video that explained why everyone from Ring Committee was “late.” Some were oversleeping, working out, or enjoying a meal at Anna’s Taqueria. Suddenly, they appeared in formal dress at Kresge as RingComm.
As in past years, the premiere started off with a fake ring presentation. A blank ring was presented to us for a moment, and then the revealing process began. Two members of the committee presented each side of the ring and explained the significance of each detail. RingComm started with the Boston skyline, then moved to the Cambridge skyline, the seal shank, the class shank, and finally the bezel.
There was enormous applause for the depiction of a candle burning from both ends on the seal shank, symbolizing how hard MIT students work. The flames read “MIT” on the right and “13” on the left. The candlestick read MIT+150.
The presentation of the bezel and beaver was greeted by a great roar from the audience. The 2013 beaver is the first to be pictured on the Boston side of the Charles, and he sits upon a dock he built himself that bears the MIT logo. Compared to the demure, happy-looking beaver of 2012, 2013 has quite the angry beaver. Sadly, however, there were no allusions to the famous Nickelodeon show of that name.
With the brass rat revealed, the committee finally divulged the nature of our surprise gift — a flat rat. Conceived some time ago, the flat rat is a flat piece of gold-colored metal that fits in a wallet. In case an unfortunate student forgets to wear a real brass rat to an interview, the student can pull out the flat rat and fold it into a three-dimensional, brass rat-esque ring. While the folded ring doesn’t make a very convincing brass rat, it is a cool novelty item that most MIT students will enjoy.
The second part of the flat rat package was another fold-up metal object that becomes a stand for the real ring. It unfolds to the shape of Great Dome, with the ring stand in front and the form of the Green Building towering on the right. Students who arrived after the initial 400 attendees will have an opportunity to purchase a flat rat and ring stand in addition to their actual ring.
After the show ended, hell broke loose in Kresge lobby. It was a complete madhouse as I struggled to pick up my flat rat. Trying to retrieve a T-shirt was even uglier business; I could literally feel myself being pushed along with the current of people. I was hit with a number of backpacks and stray limbs as 2013s elbowed their way to the shirt table. I grabbed my shirt — which says “I [ring] ’13,” with “ring” depicted as a brass rat — along with my 2013 shot glass, and ran out, happy with my loot.
Sophomores can size and order rings in Lobby 10 over the next two weeks. Rings will be distributed at the May 12 Ring Delivery at the State Room in Boston.