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Students wear class rings to show pride, ‘solidarity’

Nicole Toczauer | Friday, April 15, 2011

Notre Dame’s legendary ‘ring by spring’ tradition has invaded campus once again, though not in the usual sense of the phrase, as sophomores recently received information about ordering Notre Dame class rings.

But the shamrock-embellished ring is much more than a piece of jewelry. According to Notre Dame’s official class ring website, only alumni and juniors and seniors who have earned at least 60 credit hours are eligible to purchase the ring.

Graduate students are required to complete 50 percent of their work before they qualify to purchase a ring. The website said it verifies all orders to confirm customer eligibility.

Junior Drew Davis said he wears his Notre Dame class ring with pride because it simultaneously represents love for his family and school.

“My dad showed me his class ring when I got into Notre Dame, except his was from Tennessee,” Davis said. “I also bought a high school class ring, so I got a college one too. This is how I show my solidarity.”

Davis said when he was younger he noticed how his uncle’s fellow college alumni easily recognized him when he wore his class ring. Davis wanted to experience that same sense of camaraderie with fellow Notre Dame graduates.

“I wanted to have people recognize it and say, ‘Oh, you’re a Domer,'” he said.

The website indicates the recognizable ring was originally sold as a Class or University Badge until 1931, when the University officially created the Notre Dame class ring. But the Offical Graduation Insignia of students and alumni underwent several changes over the years.

The website said other ring designs were manufactured, and technological advancements have allowed for finer detailing. If alumni who graduated prior to 1972 still want a ring reminiscent of their Notre Dame days, the “Old Style – pre ‘72” cut is still available.

But some graduates do not feel a need to wear a class ring. Senior Katie Valko said her decision not to purchase the Notre Dame ring was largely influenced by practicality and her previous attitude toward school memorabilia.

“My choice not to buy one was probably influenced by not buying a high school ring. I never felt like I was missing out,” she said. “Plus, I don’t really wear a lot of rings.”

Valko said she preferred to show her spirit in other ways.

“To my surprise, my mom was really on board with the ring idea, but I can flaunt my Domerness in other ways,” Valko said. “I have the pendant necklace we got freshman year, which I’ll wear to interviews and Notre Dame events.”

If a student chooses to purchase a ring, it is traditionally worn with the school name and cross facing the student until graduation, the website said. After commencement, graduates may turn the ring “to face the world.”

Although Davis still has two semesters left at Notre Dame, he said he will remember his time at the University when he wears his ring after graduation.

“It’s an all-encompassing memento of my life here. I live by the Dome, which is on the ring,” he said. “You can’t walk anywhere on campus without seeing the monogram, and I’ll think of all my friends here when I look at it.”