Last Friday was a wonderful celebration of a 100 year long tradition at this school. The annual “ring day” took place, and many juniors and seniors received the highly coveted and and timeless Cobber rings. These beautiful golden bands made of ruby and housing a large C wrapped around the person’s graduation year represents the proud heritage and rich environment that surrounds the college and it’s alumni. I proudly wear my ring everyday, and usually put it on before my glasses. It symbolizes that accomplishment of coming to Concordia and working for the distinct honor to wear the ring. But I was startled and quite disappointed to read the recent article about the rings. One of the claims made is that the rings establish “a system where the wealthy are rewarded and the poor are punished.” Many of my colleagues and I after reading the article were quite irate and frustrated. And I believe this for good reason. Many students work so hard to the opportunity to get a ring, and to claim that only the rich receive a ring is insulting to the tradition of the school and to the people who worked hard to get one.
I speak from personal experience when I say many Cobbers do not get their rings handed to them on a silver platter. Over the summer leading up to my junior year, I was putting in 40+ hour work weeks at Starbucks. And while I worked, any and all tips I made were immediately saved so that I could purchase a ring. After some savvy saving and hard work, I had made enough to by my ring. And it was for that reason that it was all the more sweeter to put it on. Not only did it represent my hard work as a student, but my hard work as a worker to earn enough to get a ring. No one offered to pay for my ring, my family never put a single penny into it, I earned every dollar to be able to afford it. So to make a claim that it was not financially feasible for students was insulting to the hard work I had to put in to reaching the ring. And it is insulting to the students who do put in similar work hours to afford it. I won’t deny the rings are quite expensive (especially given that they seem to constantly have faults in the making), but it is possible to properly finance for a ring. It is all about where the priorities of the person are. If they wish to gain a ring, then that person will save up to purchase it.
The second issue I had with the article was the claim of racism in the ring. I am a proud Mexican-American who never goes a day without wearing my ring. I know many of my other colleagues who are minorities feel very similar. And the claim of exclusion of minority students at Concordia was rather odd. Never once in my four years have I felt that I am excluded here at this wonderful school. I have talked to other people of color, and many feel the way I do as well. This is not to deny that some people may have experienced some form of individual racism, but I do not see concise evidence as a whole that Concordia as an institution is racist. One must also know the history of the school. This is a college rooted in Norwegian traditions and is very clearly proud of it. And I applaud Concordia for that, much how I would applaud a Latino or Black school for similar historical traditions. But to claim that the school is racist simply because it takes pride in the rich heritage it has over the century it has existed degrades the very core value of diversity so many are claiming to strive for. The school may be Norwegian in history, but it is not a place where white nationalism has thrived, and that is due to the well founded efforts of the college’s administration. So to claim the rings are racist by nature is insulting to the school and the rich history around it.
If there is one thing I would like you all to take away from this, it is that people should be allowed to make their own decisions in buying Cobber rings. For those who do not want a ring for one reason or another, great, I applaud you for making a conscience and logical decision. But do not guilt those who took valuable time and money to earn a ring. For those who do plan to get rings or already have them, wonderful. Wear them with pride, but always be humble in wearing it. To quote Dr. Clausen, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”