Little could have inspired me and so many other sophomores to brave the freezing temperatures and inclement winds last Friday evening, save the highly anticipated premiere of the Class of 2017 Brass Rat. I arrived at Kresge Auditorium at 6:30 p.m., half an hour before the doors opened, to wait outside with my fellow ’17s; the semi-organized line of sophomores soon began to curve around Kresge and extend toward the Z Center.
Sophomores arrived in droves: many represented their respective fraternities, sororities, or sports teams by coordinating outfits; others strolled in casually with friends. Attire ranged from semi-formal to casual.
When the doors opened, there were volunteers checking IDs to ensure that each of us were indeed members of the Class of 2017. Before entering the auditorium, we were each handed a raffle ticket.
Inside, my friends and I got seats toward the front. I noticed that most people were seated in relatively large groups that I identified as being from specific fraternities and dorms.
The projector screen behind the stage showed the countdown until the premiere started. It was at 26 minutes when I sat down. To entertain themselves during the wait, people stood in the aisles and in front of the stage to take group photos and selfies. Sophomores continued to file in for those next 26 minutes, and a few latecomers straggled in shortly after the premiere had started.
As the premiere was starting, I looked around the auditorium to behold what seemed like the vast majority of our class, united under one roof, which I knew to be a rare occurrence throughout our years at MIT.
Traditionally, members of the Ring Committees from previous years are invited to attend Ring Premiere, and would sit on the balcony in Kresge during the presentation. This year, however, the SAO, CAC, and Ring Committee jointly decided to close off balcony seating. In recent years, Ring Committees had been a disturbance, drinking alcohol and shouting when the designs were revealed. The members from previous years’ Ring Committees that did attend this year were seated in the audience, but in an area isolated from the ’17s. In an email to The Tech, Ring Committee Chair Anthony J. Occidentale ’17 said that he still received “comments from my classmates about how the past committees were ‘rude’ and ‘obnoxious’ and ‘shouldn’t have been there.’”
The commencement of Ring Premiere was met with thunderous applause and incomprehensible chants from the audience. Members of the Ring Committee proceeded to explain the details of the ring design. Following tradition, the ring contained many hidden details that are symbolic to the Class of 2017.
The Boston and Cambridge skylines appear on the ring; the Cambridge skyline even includes an outline of the roller coaster built by East Campus in their courtyard this past REX. Also, the traditional “Hacker’s Map” inscribed on the inside of the ring, showing the underground interconnectivity of the buildings, uniquely omits Building 12 due to the ongoing construction of the MIT.nano Building.
The MIT seal is also customized, including flames from the lamp in the shape of the number 17. The replacement of the traditional male mason by a craftswoman received applause.
On the class shank, there is a bitcoin commemorating the $100 in bitcoins that we all had the opportunity to receive last semester, as well as a security camera positioned next to the great dome, representing the enhanced security measures in dormitories these couple of years.
The Ring Committee went on to reveal a bezel design including a participant in the ALS Bucket Challenge, which went viral over the summer, as well as a beaver riding a tank. These ridiculous additions to the bezel made it clear that this design was a joke.
The real bezel design features a beaver, as per tradition, with the Charles River, Boston, and MIT in the background. Etched subtly into the beaver’s tale are the letters IHTFP, which the audience showed its approval of with cheers and laughter. The roof of Kresge auditorium is designed to look like a football to commemorate the historic success of MIT’s football team this past season. The bezel features other iconic symbols such as the Prudential Center, the Citgo sign and Fenway Park, a Tech Dinghy, and the great dome.
Between descriptions of each face of the ring, members of the Ring Committee raffled off subsidies ranging from $50 to $100. Recipients went up to the stage, some leaping onto it after running up the aisle, to receive their subsidy.
Next, the members of the ring committee revealed the details of this year’s ring delivery, which will be held at the Institute of Contemporary Art on April 22.
Before the ceremony ended, the members of the Ring Committee raffled off a subsidy for a free ring; the first ticket-holder that they called was apparently no longer present at the ceremony, so they had to call out another ticket number.
After the ceremony ended, we rushed to grab bags containing t-shirts and shot glasses on our way out of Kresge. According to Occidentale, 540 rings were sold the next day, and over 1,100 rings had been bought by the following Wednesday.
The newly revealed class ring has been a frequent conversation topic among my fellow ’17s in the days following premiere, as many students anticipate ring delivery, where they will receive their very own Brass Rats.