“It’s like wearing your diploma on your hand,” said Courtney Roehling, the Texas Exes VP of Engagement, when I asked her what UT’s class ring means to her.
Class rings are treasured objects of memorabilia for many graduating seniors across the U.S. They symbolize four years of hard work, determination and dedication to higher learning. UT’s official class ring page notes that the ring “(commemorates) the unique and lifelong affiliation each graduate has with the University.” That’s a lot of meaning to a tiny piece of metal.
I can’t deny the appeal of this tradition. These transformative four years of college fly by quickly and it is nice to have a lasting token of appreciation if not for students’ academic strides made, then for all the memories and personal growth achieved.
While I really appreciate the concept of the class ring, I just can’t get over the hefty price tag. The cheapest women’s option comes in at $640 while the men’s rings start at $1,000. Enhancements like adding a stone to the ring face or changing the ring’s metal incur additional costs. For some students, this may seem like an exorbitant amount of money to pay for an object of memorabilia.
To ensure that all students can exhibit the pride they feel for graduating from UT, the University should provide alternative and more affordable memorabilia for purchase.
Balfour does provide students with an option to set up a three-month payment plan. Roehling also mentioned some students can apply for a ring waiver to get a ring for free. This year alone, Texas Exes reported over 2,700 rings sold. Evidently, people still regard class rings as an important investment when leaving their university and try to make the purchase possible.
However, other objects of memorabilia can carry the same meaning as the class ring, while being more affordable for all students. People will cry “Tradition!” as a defense of the iconic status the ring holds, but traditions can change. Just this year, UT introduced the new practice of housing the class rings overnight in the Tower before the ring ceremony.
Students are proud to attend UT, and they may want to show off their pride, but that doesn’t mean they should have to drop almost a fifth of their semester’s tuition to do so.
The meaning and symbolism associated with the class ring isn’t encapsulated solely in that object, which means cheaper alternatives could be introduced with the same grandeur afforded to class rings. These options could be included in subsequent ring ceremonies, opening up the celebration to an even larger cohort of Longhorns uniting in their mutual pride for the University.
Dasgupta is a neuroscience freshman from Plano.