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SA institutes class ring tradition

By Tina Ou     9/28/11 7:00pm

For students looking to represent all their Rice experiences in one memento, Rice offers a small and portable option: class rings. A group of students, faculty and administrators are collaborating on a project to solidify class ring traditions at Rice and encourage more students to purchase class rings.

Those working on this project include the Alumni Affairs Office, Student Association, Ring Focus Group, students in the Ring Ambassadors Program, and college presidents and masters. They have already designated Oct. 12 as Rice Day, the ring-ordering kick-off day for the class of 2012.

According to Ring Ambassador Philip Tarpley, the class of 2011 had a ring-buying rate of 53 percent, but only 12 students in the class of 2012 currently own a class ring.

"Because of the Rice ring's minimal place in Rice culture [right now], students aren't seeing how valuable and important the ring really is," Tarpley, a Brown College senior,vbb said.

Tarpley said the ring not only serves as a symbol of each student's Rice experience, but also represents Rice in the professional world and helps people make connections.

"[The ring] is a sign of the promise that Rice students make to represent Rice, to give back to Rice as an alumnus and to support other Rice alumni," Tarpley said.

One example of an existing ring tradition at Rice is students wearing the ring with the owls on the design facing them before they have graduated from Rice and turning the ring around so that the owls face the outside after graduation. This represents the change students experience leaving the hedges and going toward their goals while upholding Rice's values.

Tarpley said Rice Day this year will include a networking event for alumni and graduating seniors to mingle, which will serve as an opportunity for seniors to learn from their predecessors. Tarpley added that there is a senior-junior event planned for the spring in which the seniors will pass their roles on to current juniors, who can also purchase their own class rings.

Student Association President Georgia Lagoudas said Rice is ranked first in Texas for ring sales in a private university, as the percentage of seniors buying rings was higher than the other schools. Lagoudas, a Lovett College senior, former SA President Selim Sheikh and Nicole Peralta from the Alumni Affairs Office met with Balfour, the ring company, this spring and discussed universities with strong ring traditions. They also talked to students, alumni and other universities over the summer to gather information for the ring project.

Lagoudas said Ring Ambassadors have been selected from each residential college to help plan ring-related events and promote sales. The ambassadors and alumni will be encouraging students at each college to participate in the ring traditions on Rice Day.

Student Programs Liaison to the Rice Alumni Board Donald Bowers (Hanszen '91) said he hoped that the ring would connect students' college, class and alumni experiences. He added that those who wear the Rice class ring have earned the recognition of being part of the small, yet elite, Rice community.

Tarpley said the exterior design of the ring has remained the same since it was created by Rice students in 1918. He described the design as recognizable, meaningful and a gift from the alumni to the students.

Tarpley said students can order their class rings through the Rice Bookstore, which offers them in 10-, 14-, and 18-karat yellow and white gold. Silver celestrium rings are also available upon request.

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