Official Ring Under Negotiation

Sole class ring vendor source of ongoing debate, investigation

College graduates may soon be able to buy the “one ring to rule them all” after the Undergraduate Council last night authorized negotiations to select an “official ring.”

The “one-ring program” approved at the meeting allows the council to sanction a single class ring model, and anyone who orders the ring will receive the graduation memento at an official ceremony.

According to the council documents, the one-ring program is designed to save students money—between $100 and $200 per ring—and to increase the number of students who purchase class rings.

Jack P. McCambridge ’06, who co-sponsored the bill, said that only about half of Harvard students buy rings, as opposed to MIT—which currently has a one-ring program—where nearly every student submits an order.

Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) approached the council with the one-ring proposal. In the original version of the bill, HSA was specified as the ring vendor. The bill also included provisions for HSA to continue its sponsorship of the council’s movies nights. The final version, though, was amended to allow council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 and Vice President Michael R. Blickstead ’05 to negotiate with various ring vendors and find the plan that would most benefit students.


Some council members, including Blickstead—who withdrew his name from sponsorship of the bill after it was amended—said it was unethical to use HSA’s proposal as leverage in negotiations with other companies.

“I will not sponsor a bill that prostitutes an idea to other companies,” Blickstead said.

The majority of the council disagreed.

Joshua A. Barro ’05 disapproved of the council dealing exclusively with HSA, which currently controls only 40 percent of the ring sales on campus. The Coop holds a 40 percent market share as well, and RingWear captures almost 20 percent.

Other council members objected to the council sponsoring any product in turn for compensation, calling it a “quid pro quo.”

“The council is now in the business of bribery,” said Jason L. Lurie ’05, who voted against the bill.

In other business, the council approved its fifth grants package of the spring term, raising the total amount allocated this term to $34,962.50.

Joe T.M. Cianflone ’07 addressed the council to petition on behalf of Falldown Films—a student group focused on film production at Harvard—after the council’s Finance Committee recommended that the organization receive none of its $20,000 request. In his speech to the council, Cianflone requested $5,000 of “start-up funding” to purchase a camera for filming.

Cianflone—who presented a petition with 300 signatures of people supporting the organization—justified the large request by citing the absence of film on campus and the potential involvement of “hundreds of students” in a project.

While nobody voiced disapproval of Falldown Films’ cause, most council members said the council couldn’t fund such a large-scale project.