Class of ’09 Brass Rat Revealed, Hidden “08” Seen in Ring Design

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Ellen T. Wong ’09 (left) and Lihua Bai ’09 (right) marvel at the unique features of the 2009 Ring design.
Ricardo Ramirez—The Tech
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Mariel G. Kozberg ’09 (left, in brown) hands her ticket to Emily Jean Onufer ’10 (in pink) in order to claim her Class of 2009 shot glass and T-shirt.
Eric Schmiedl—The TEch
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Christopher G. Whitfield ’09, Class of 2009 Ring Committee chair, and Vice Chair Colleen P. Mosley ’09, explain the tradition of MIT’s class ring, dubbed the “Brass Rat.”
Ricardo Ramirez—The Tech
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Sunita Darbe ’09, Christopher J. Varenhorst ’09, Danbee Kim ’09, and C. Kiersten Pollard ’09 (left to right) examine the newly-revealed rings after the Class of 2009 Ring Premiere.
Eric D. Schmiedl—The Tech

The Brass Rat 2009 Ring Premiere held last Friday evening marked the release of the design of the Class of 2009 Ring, which features several unique aspects, such as female and male signs on the beaver’s pocket watch and an inscription of “punt,” which can be read as “tool” upside down. In addition, the presence of an accidental “08” behind the beaver in the ring’s bezel has posed a controversy.

The budget for this year’s ring was $70,000, marking an increase of $20,000 from last year’s. Amy C. Gilpin ’09, the Ring Committee treasurer, said that this is partially because of an increase in the cost of gold. The additional money will also go toward planning the Ring Delivery, the event where students receive their rings.

Arjun Naskar ’09, the historian of the Ring Committee said, “The Class of 2007 ring had some controversy. So to balance that out, the Class of 2008 made a very traditional ring. We took a middle path that included a lot of the traditional features that have been used for the last four or five years such as hacking, the motto ‘IHTFP,’ and ‘punt,’ and ‘tool,’ and gave it our own twist.”

Regarding the controversy over the “08” on the bezel, Colleen P. Mosley ’09, the Vice Chair of the Ring Committee, said, “We didn’t even notice it. It was just the way that Walker and Building 2 were drawn. It was completely unintentional.”

In addition to the controversy over the hidden “08,” the 2009 ring committee also accidentally leaked the ring design.

Information about the ring, including a draft with details of the design, was accidently published on Athena and was available for over a month before the design was unveiled last Friday.

The brass rat traditionally consists of several parts, including the bezel, the class shank, the seal shank, the campus map, the Boston skyline and the Cambridge skyline.

The Ring Committee described some of the distinctive features on this year’s bezel, which includes a second beaver swimming in the Charles River to symbolize friendship, the cannon behind the large beaver, and a three-headed dog, Kerberos, which guards the school.

Gwenn M. Miller ’09 said, “I thought the 2009 letters were too big. But overall the design is very good.”

According to the Class of 2009 Ring Web site, the class shank is marked by a dollar bill which sits behind the columns of building 10 in memory of the old cashier’s office mural and the controversy over its removal. The former planet Pluto is sketched to the left of the Great Dome.

The inscription “punt” under the icon of the Great Dome, can be read as “tool” when turned upside down. Under the inscription “punt” is a picture of the fire hose, depicting the saying that “getting an education from MIT is like taking a drink from a fire hose.”

“The punt and tool are very different this year. It may take a while to get over it,” said Jason J. Whittaker ’09.

The seal shank consists of the three letters — M, I, and T — with the school seal below. Beneath the seal is a globe within the nucleus of an atom that symbolizes the universal thinking at MIT as well as the diversity that characterizes the school.

This year’s ring also has a hacking mapping on the underside of the bezel.

Joanne H. Bruno ’09 said, “I’m happy with the design. I liked the hacker’s map and especially the side with the beaver on it.”

The Boston and Cambridge skylines are engraved on opposing sides of the bezel.

This year, students have a chance to win a ring. The Mystery Hunt, which last took place in 2004, has been resumed this year. The Ring Committee will release a clue each week for four weeks, at the end of which a final “answer” may be submitted. The first team to respond with the correct final answer will receive a refund equaling the price of two gold rings.

Christopher G. Whitfield ’09, Chair of the Ring Committee, described that there were a certain number of free rings that the committee received from the company they were working with, Balfour, and after distributing those to the twelve members in the committee, they had three left over. So they decided to raffle one off at the Ring Premiere and use the Mystery Hunt to give away the other two.

“We thought it was a fun and cool way to get people involved with the ring and a way to give back to our class. After all, our goal is to design something that will last ages and we want to have fun while doing this and have the rest of our class be a part of this fun,” said Whitfield.

Mosley described that the biggest challenge for the ring committee was to get twelve people from unique backgrounds and unique perspectives to meet and openly discuss how to devise one, unified design that would represent the entire class.

Ring orders will be taken in Lobby 10 at the Balfour booth from Tuesday, Feb. 20, until Wednesday, Feb. 28. Prices range from $118 for the Celestrium brass rat, up to $680 for an 18K large sized ring.

Students will receive their rings at the Boston State Room on Thursday, April 19. More information is available online at