Class Rings at PC
On Sunday, April 17, Presbyterian College held its Fourth Annual Class Ring Ceremony in Edmunds Hall. This was a special time for students approaching graduation, when they celebrated their time at PC and affirmed that their ties to the college would continue beyond commencement. As the college’s news release about the class ring ceremony states, “the PC ring signifies not only the accomplishment of graduating from PC and becoming part of our alumni association, but also represents everything the College stands for and all of the experiences of being a student here that we all have shared . . . [I]t signifies honor and service that PC students experience, embrace, and live out long after they leave this place” (“Class Ring Ceremony – Alumni”).
Although April 17 marked only the fourth class ring ceremony at PC, class rings themselves have a longer history at the college. Unfortunately, that history often has to be deduced from a few tantalizing clues. For example, in the Senior History in the 1926 Pac Sac, this statement appears: “As Juniors we [the senior class] . . . gave to the college a class ring of new and more suitable design” (p. 64). No other information is given, so we do not know what the new design looked like, or what the previous design looked like.
A series of articles in the Blue Stocking in 1950 discusses an amendment to the student body constitution, passed by the student council and ratified by the student body, which “prohibits the purchase of class rings by any students other than second semester juniors and higher-ups” (March 18, 1950). This was followed the next month by a poll indicating that students favored a standard class ring.
No further mentions of class rings are found in the Pac Sac or the Blue Stocking until 1970, when the Blue Stocking reported that the Balfour Company was considering a new ring design. Both a signet ring and a ring with a stone were to be made available to students, the rings would be available in two different sizes, and faster delivery and lower prices were promised. The eligibility requirement to purchase a Balfour ring was to remain, however (April 3, 1970).
News about class rings reappears in the Blue Stocking in 1995 and 1996, when the paper reported that college officials were again considering the adoption of an official PC class ring which only certain students would be eligible to purchase. Dean of Students Joe Nixon stated that, if there are eligibility requirements, “it becomes more than buying jewelry – it is part of the process of pre-graduation” (February 21, 1996). Various design options were to be offered.
Clearly the class ring has been around at PC for a long time, as have concerns about eligibility requirements and ring design. The class ring ceremony, though, is new to PC. As part of this fresh tradition, PC’s Alumni Department has invited Archives to assist in paying homage to the college’s rich history. On Friday April 15, in preparation for the class ring ceremony the rings were delivered to the Founders Library in Archives, where they spent that night under the portrait of William Plumer Jacobs.
After all, what better place for these symbols of Presbyterian College to absorb some of the essence of the college’s founder? Any visitor to the Founder’s Library can attest to the fact that the room is filled with evidence of the kind of man Dr. Jacobs was. His books, both in their sheer number and in the wide range of topics they cover, reveal his curiosity and love of learning. The tiny notebooks in which he recorded all manner of notes serve to demonstrate his attention to detail. Mementos from his travels are evidence of his sense of adventure. His copies of special editions of books of the Bible for the visually impaired depict his perseverance in the face of challenges. The gifts he received from students at Thornwell Orphanage show the devotion he inspired. Who’s to say that a small measure of those qualities didn’t somehow find its way into the class rings as they soaked up the atmosphere of the Founder’s Library overnight? We’ll never know for sure, but we are proud and excited to be able to play a part in PC’s new tradition!
posted by Sarah Leckie