Time to ‘ring’ in a new tradition

There’s a civilian junior ring?

That is a question that is often heard from many students and faculty at Norwich University.

Students at Norwich are a part of one big community that bands together to make things happen. One of the key events that symbolizes this student community is the awarding of a Norwich ring, a long Corps tradition that has expanded to include having a civilian junior ring, a meaningful new tradition for the civilian side. Unfortunately, civilians still receive backlash from those in the Corps who think that civilians do not deserve them.

At almost every college there is a class ring, although rings may not have the same significance at civilian schools, where the tradition is declining nationwide. But at Norwich, getting a junior ring holds important meaning to those students in the Corps and civilians who get them.

As a civilian student, I often hear Corps students bash the civilian ring as not standing for anything. But although we may not go through rookdom or rook week, we still go through our own personal challenges that the students in the Corps may not even realize. This ring unites us as members of the Norwich community, whether it is Corps or civilian: We are still one big class, and we still will all graduate on the same day, at the same ceremony. This ring unites us as future Norwich graduates, something that we can be proud to show off for future generations to come, sharing our stories of how we spent our time here. It is also a symbol of what we have gone through as we now help underclassmen get through the tough times that they may experience.

Many negative things are said about the civilian ring: Civilians don’t deserve them, or they are just using that as an excuse to mock the Corps. In reality, we want to be a part of something special, make this our own, and to show people that there is more to Norwich than the military aspect. The truth is, not everyone who wants to is able to join the military – or even the Corps – but they still want to be a part of that environment. This ring for the civilians is our way to say that we are a part of this community, even when we find ourselves excluded from campus events or feel as if we are not full participants.

But perhaps this is beginning to change. Even since my freshman year here, I have seen attitudes in the Norwich community begin to alter. Three years ago, the civilian ring did not hold as much popularity as it does now: This year, we have set a new sales record by selling 60 rings for the civilian junior ring, demonstrating an increased interest in civilians to have a symbol of their role in the student community and traditions at Norwich. This ring means that we have survived all the hate and backlash that sometime comes from being a civilian on this campus.

In the end, we all graduate from the same place with a degree from Norwich University, and those of us who have rings – all of us – will wear them with pride.

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