Students express mixed opinions regarding class rings

by Kartikeya Menon | 10/3/12 10:00pm

by Maggie Rowland and Maggie Rowland / The Dartmouth

The ring committee, a subset of the 2013 Class Council, manages the selection, advertisement and marketing of the rings, according to Senior Class Council President George Travers '13. The committee is also responsible for negotiating prices with Balfour, the company chosen and contracted by the College to make and distribute the rings. In previous years, the College has worked with Jostens but decided to switch to Balfour because it offers better quality products at lower prices, according Travers.

Frances Davenport '13 said she would not personally wear a ring and, like some other members of the Class of 2013, said she found the rings too expensive. Like Davenport, Emma Smith '13 said she did not think it was a "worthwhile investment" to purchase a Dartmouth ring given that she never wears her high school class ring.

Students also criticized the lack of ring options. Trevor Horan '13 said he wished Balfour offered gold or silver-plated rings at a lower cost, as a ring's value as a piece of Dartmouth memorabilia is greater than the quality of the actual jewelry.

The rings seemed "boldly and unabashedly capitalistic," according to Samantha Reckford '13, who said the marketing scheme implied that a class ring is a necessary component of the Dartmouth experience. Reckford said she felt pressured by repeated marketing emails to purchase a ring.

"I feel like Dartmouth has marked me in a lot of ways that don't need to be shown through a ring," she said.

Other students said that the rings mark a way to represent personal pride and a sense of school spirit and community, Travers said. They can serve as symbols of students' academic accomplishments and personal trajectories.

"A Dartmouth classmate will recognize it, but no one in the general public will know it's a class ring," Class Council Secretary Andrea Baer '13 said. "It's a subtle way of connecting everyone in the class."

The ring also serves as a reminder of the hard work a student devotes to school, according to Ali Essey '13, whose parents purchased a ring for her.

Some students said the cost of the rings is reasonable given their material and sentimental value. Travers compared the rings' cost to that of dues for many of the College's Greek organizations, with which many seniors are affiliated.

Students who ordered rings were invited to a ring ceremony last week that was held and paid for by Balfour, according to College Balfour representative Peg Mead. Some of the company's profits from ring sales were used to supply food, distribute invitations and fund travel for company representatives to campus.

Despite the festivities, a number of students attended solely to pick up their rings, according to Baer.

Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson spoke at the ceremony about the senior class and the symbolic value of the rings, according to Essey.

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