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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

My Brass Rat by Mollie B. '06

The Brass Rat is not a subtle thing.

Brief note: I am currently in Ohio, shopping for wedding dresses. And yet I bring you this bonus blog entry. Do I love you, or do I love you? Questions from last entry will be answered when I get back to Beantown.

Well, Melis has written about her 2008 Brass Rat, Mitra has written about her 2007 Brass Rat, and Matt has written briefly about the Brass Rats for the past six years, but nobody’s ever written about the 2006 Brass Rat, which I humbly consider to be the most superior Brass Rat ever. (Hee.)

My class ring was unveiled during a premiere at Walker Memorial, then distributed at a swanky event at Top of the Hub, a very classy restaurant at the top of Boston’s Prudential Tower. (In case anybody missed the implication, Top of the Hub is not somewhere students usually have the opportunity to dine — they don’t serve hamburgers and fries there, you know what I mean?)


The 2006 beaver is supposed to look a little more benevolent than the rough and tough beaver chosen for the 2005 ring. He’s holding a scroll to represent knowledge, and a globe to represent the way MIT graduates hold the world in our hands (cheesy, but yes). If you look closely, you’ll see that the beaver is also wearing a Brass Rat. At the beaver’s feet, there are some leaves shaped like Kresge Auditorium.

Also at his feet, there are reeds in the form of the Roman numerals for 24 — not for Jack Bauer, but to represent the fact that MIT majors go from 1 (civil/environmental engineering) to 24 (linguistics and philosophy). Course numbers are pretty fluid — at the moment, there’s no 13 (used to be ocean engineering), no 19 (technically), and no 23. Next to the reeds, there are blocks with the letters A, B, and C on them. This represents fundamentally the fact that we were the first class to have A/B/C/no record second term (all classes before ours had pass/no record all of freshman year); it takes the form of a hack which also commemorated this change. Our beaver is sitting on eight ivy leaves. I’ll let you fill in the blanks on that one.

There’s a tree behind the beaver; you can see “IHTFP” spelled out in the branches (note: this detail is not at all subtle in this picture, but it’s subtle on the ring itself) and a map of the Infinite scratched onto the trunk. A gnome peeks out from behind the tree, celebrating the gnome hack.

My favorite part of the ring is the “companion beaver” in the river. He represents the idea that no one at MIT succeeds due to his or her own abilities alone, but that all of us rely on other students for academic and personal support.

In the background, a double helix stands next to the symbol from the top of the MIT chapel. The symbol on the chapel is meant to represent religion, and the juxtaposition of the religious symbol and the double helix is meant to show the need for a dialogue between science and religion.

Class shank

This is the side that says “2006” at the top. In the sky at the top, there is a shooting star, drawn from the logo of the space shuttle Columbia. In the background, the Stata Center (opened at the beginning of my junior year at MIT) looks like a piece of abstract sculpture; if you look closely, you see the letters “ILTFP” hidden in it. I like the inclusion of “ILTFP” as well as “IHTFP” — even though IHTFP technically has both positive and negative meanings, the negative one is usually inferred when someone uses it. I’m glad our ring incorporates ILTFP as well — we all have strong feelings about MIT, and it’s definitely possible to love the school strongly and hate it strongly at the same time.

Both domes can be seen in the class shank, and the Green Building towers in the background. Four students stand in the foreground; they represent the variety of students at MIT, but unfortunately it is 1 AM and I can’t remember what they are — I know one of them’s an artist and one is an athlete, but I forget what the other two are. I’m old. Sorry.

Seal shank

Look for a bunch of small details on the seal shank: “punt” and “tool” in the leaves around 1861 in the center; a TEAL clicker in the pocket of the scholar; a snow shovel, representing the President’s Day 2003 snowstorm, in the hand of the worker; a coffee cup in the worker’s other hand; the number “81”, representing our sister class, the class of 1981, coming out of the mouth of the lamp at the top.


The most notable and coolest thing about the skylines is that, if you join fists with another ’06 wearing a Brass Rat, the skylines will meet and form the letters “MIT”. Go look at the website if you don’t believe me.

On the MIT skyline, there are two Greek letters, phi and theta, representing the fact that our class was the first to force all freshmen, even those who were fraternity/sorority-affiliated, to live on campus. Some non-Greek people were roundly annoyed at this, leading some people to show up at Ring Delivery with “Phi Theta” t-shirts on.

Hacker’s map

I have to admit, I’ve always been tempted to take off my ring and point out locations to lost prefrosh when they stop me and ask for directions.

I wear my Brass Rat every day. It’s heavy, so it takes some getting used to, but now I feel funny if I don’t wear it. After graduation, the ring is turned over 180 degrees — prior to graduation, the beaver faces you, but after graduation the beaver faces the world. This is politely explained with reference to the skylines: prior to graduation you look over the river at Boston, and after graduation you’re an outsider looking into Cambridge. Less politely, prior to graduation the beaver is thought to defecate on you… after graduation, the beaver defecates on the world for you, because the world is your oyster now.

I always heard stories about Brass Rats being recognized on planes and at job interviews, but I thought they were hyperbole until I went on my graduate school interviews. I wear my ring on my right hand, and it’s obvious to anyone shaking my hand — I had several professors look at my ring and say, “Oh, you went to MIT!” The Brass Rat is not a subtle thing.

12 responses to “My Brass Rat”

  1. Anonymous says:

    In the MIT Skyline, is that the Citgo Sign? That is wicked cool.

  2. Hamster says:

    I looked at a lot of other Brass Rat’s on Matt’s blog and the ’06 one is by far my favorite.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m considering a double major at MIT in physics and math and I was wondering how you managed to take all the required classes from both courses and also met the credit limit. Did you run into any complications? Also, how much credit is normally awarded for UROPs? Thanks!

  4. Joe says:

    Yes, Virginia, that is the giant, glowing Citgo sign. You really can’t miss it, yet somehow the pictures seem to…

    I haven’t taken the time to check out the other Brass Rats, but I like this one. ‘Specially how the two rings form MIT like that.

  5. Omar '10 says:

    Wow, that rings is awesome! I can’t wait to get mine!!

  6. Albert '10 says:

    Hi Mollie,

    I was wondering if you’ve ever written any entries on good things to bring to MIT. I thought I’d seen some page on the MIT site about this… Thanks!

  7. Albert '10 says:

    Just found a really good link for all incoming freshmen…here ya go:

  8. Drew says:

    Is the hacker’s map on the inside of the ring? And what year do we get the rings?

  9. Colin says:

    I can’t freaking wait to have a brass rat.

  10. Leo Luo says:

    After you went through the details and my quick look at Matt’s related entry, the ’06 brass rat indeed has more style than others.When will the ’10 brass rat be revealed?

    One irrelavent question, I plan to have one(at least) school-supplies-shopping journey after planned arrival on Aug.26 by plane. Is there a Walmart around and how do I carry all the stuff without a car?



  11. Anonymous says:

    I heard that people get two brass rats- one gold and one silver. Why would you do that?

  12. Charlotte says:

    Hmm…doing a second major in Course 24 (Philosophy track)( seems to be an interesting option if you want to ponder about how science works and develops. Just look at these subjects:

    “Required Subjects for Philosophy track

    24.201 Topics in the History of Philosophy (CI-M)

    24.260 Topics in Philosophy (CI-M)

    One of the following Knowledge and Reality subjects:

    24.10J Thinking about Life: Philosophical Problems in Evolution and Development (HASS-D)

    24.111 Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics

    24.211 Theory of Knowledge

    24.215 Topics in the Philosophy of Science

    24.221 Metaphysics

    24.253 Philosophy of Mathematics

    24.280 Foundations of Probability

    One of the following three subjects:

    9.65 Cognitive Processes

    24.904J Language Acquisition

    24.905J Psycholinguistics

    Restricted electives for Philosophy track:

    A coherent program of three additional subjects from one or two of the three areas: Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Linguistics, and Philosophy”

    Especially this section:

    “One of the following Knowledge and Reality subjects:

    24.10J Thinking about Life: Philosophical Problems in Evolution and Development (HASS-D)

    24.111 Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics

    24.211 Theory of Knowledge

    24.215 Topics in the Philosophy of Science

    24.221 Metaphysics

    24.253 Philosophy of Mathematics

    24.280 Foundations of Probability”

    Very MITish philosophy classes indeed.

    “24.111 Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics” looks pretty sophiscated.

    And MIT must be one of the very rare colleges that has thought of bundling philosophy and linguistics together.